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Win a Bicycle!

July 9, 2012 | by

My predecessor George Plimpton was known for cycling around New York  before it was either cool or safe (before, some would say, it was sane). And nowadays, we at TPR are still devoted city bikers; our rides can be found chained up and down White Street. So in celebration of the Tour de France—and thanks to the generosity of Hudson Urban Bikes—we, along with Velojoy, are giving away one of Hudson Urban Bikes' Beater Bicycles Roadster. This classic city bike comes in a men’s and a women’s model, both of which may be seen in the diabolical and rather enigmatic illustration below.

To win the HUB Beater, tell us what you see in this picture:

  • in three hundred words or fewer
  • in the style of (choose one!Elizabeth Bishop, Ray Bradbury, Joan Didion, Ernest Hemingway, or P. G. Wodehouse
  • Read The Paris Review interviews for inspiration—and be sure to send in your entries by July 22. Submit to contests@theparisreview.org. The winner will be chosen by the editors of the Review.

    63 COMMENTS

    53 Comments

    Newer Comments »
    1. Mo Ibrahim | July 9, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      To win the HUB Beater, tell us what you see in this picture:

      in three hundred words or fewer
      in the style of (choose one!) Elizabeth Bishop, Ray Bradbury, Joan Didion, Ernest Hemingway, or P. G. Wodehouse
      Read The Paris Review interviews for inspiration…

      Are you serious?

    2. Mary Lee | July 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Wow. Please will you publish all of the entries??

    3. jack carlson | July 9, 2012 at 8:59 pm

      The smooth ride keeps the devil from nipping at your heals

    4. Lorin Stein | July 10, 2012 at 11:45 am

      Dead serious, Mo Ibrahim!

      Finalists will be published!

    5. Jonas | July 10, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      «On the August night in 1954 when Géraldine Machada, then a French teacher in Cuba, flew out of Havana on her bicycle into exile, she took with her the memories of five summers, her most beautiful yellow dress, and one comrade, still in his pajamas.»

    6. Sean | July 10, 2012 at 5:16 pm

      Do you want submissions in the body of the email?

    7. Lorin Stein | July 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      Sean, you are welcome to include your submission in the body of the e-mail, or send it as an attachment. In either case, the address to use is: contests@theparisreview.org.

    8. Alice Bouilliez | July 11, 2012 at 3:13 am

      So this is what OPA doesto you darling!

    9. Alice Bouilliez | July 11, 2012 at 3:13 am

      So this is what illicit drug taking does to you darling!

    10. Mark Wilson | July 11, 2012 at 8:11 am

      The contest would be better if they let us choose our own author to imitate…. I could really do it up well if I could ape Anne Sexton or Sylvia Plath…. Elizabeth Bishop? Now that’s too unique and great and inimitable a voice to virtuoso-ize.

      Here’s a Plathian interpretation:

      Wheels whir; blur of spokes
      and undulate ochre scarves.
      There is a devil catching up to me.

      Isadora Duncan, I hate my neck too.
      It aches to snap,
      a twig in the candy-apple devil breeze.

      I turn my head to spy him
      and he devours my delicious profile.
      We are speeding, we are speeding.

      Wind-carved, we speed and we spin,
      and we spin on the track
      set beneath our slim tread
      like a ribbon of taffy.

      He wants to eat me, my wheeled demon.
      He wants to stop me and make me still.
      What shall I do, what shall I do?
      His back is hunched and about to give birth.

      My wheels have stilled. I have crashed.
      My nails pierce his heaving back.
      Something spills into me,
      a red ripe and rude fruit.

    11. Jeremy Morgan | July 12, 2012 at 10:22 am

      Getting the devil to persue you, that is the easy part. With a casual glance at the once frenzied demon riding at her heels, she continues her course.

      “Not much farther” she quietly says. The trick is not to get the devil to chase you, but to keep chasing you past the point of reason.

      She slows down -just a little- to allow him to close some of the expanding gap. As with all the other times she has tempted him with this, a mixture of exaustion and excitement mingle on his face, and he begins to pedal his bicycle with renewed vigor.

    12. mark c | July 12, 2012 at 11:47 am

      mark wilson….that plathian interp was awesome. well done.

    13. Rob | July 12, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Her eyes earlier that day were nothing like they are now. Now she is positively girlish. Wonderful and girlish and there is no place I can imagine being but here on this mountain. I am glad I did not die that afternoon in Cajar only because I can be here and in love and making everything I do for her sake alone.

      She is young but she has made me younger and as we ride together up the slope I imagine I am chasing her and it is the happiest time of my life. The Spanish say God favors those who die young.

      When we reach the summit I will set out the basket and the wine from the market and I will tell her everything. I will tell her I want this day to never end and that I will never leave her.

      Thomas Parson’s heart pounded full of blood and sound and he could feel it in his ears. He looked over his shoulder and down the mountain face to the rock below, only for a second.

      (in the style of Hemingway)

    14. Ernesto | July 12, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Multiple entries per person allowed?

    15. Lorin Stein | July 12, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      What the hell, sure!

    16. Mike | July 13, 2012 at 7:35 am

      Is it open to Canadians or just US?

    17. Lorin Stein | July 13, 2012 at 9:09 am

      The contest is open to anyone, but the bike is in NYC, so the winner will have to pedal it home!

    18. Michael Kelly | July 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      “Her devil may care attitude soon changed when she saw the devil did actually care”….I couldn’t possibly cycle the bike to Limerick from New York, so please plagerise ….

    19. Alexandra Palmer | July 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      Hi,
      will the entries be posted here when the contest’s over? When should we be looking for them?
      Cannot wait to read them!
      Thank you,
      Sasha

    20. Lorin Stein | July 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      Sasha, finalists will be posted shortly after July 22.

    21. Lisa Lachapelle | July 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Over my shoulder alas a foreshortened view, would not cover the shadow that extended not from the wheel but from one lurching behind me. Yellow wave like a garment’s flag please still his view, until I make it to cathedral near. “Where?” he breathed into whispering air trailing me. “Where none can see” my answer. The pedals flew barely keeping time with my feet.

    22. Alexandra Palmer | July 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Thank you, Lorin. Have a great weekend, everyone.

    23. billymac mcyoung | July 17, 2012 at 11:38 am

      SHE guilds by at a pace, much faster than his own. as her yellow scarf fludders by; a wiff of her purfume an lovly face tranforms him into a panting pan of myth. I MUST HAVE HER!!! consumes hes mind. i am on a beater yet i gain not on her! he thinks to himself. so caught in her grace he fails too see that she too is on a beater.

    24. Laurel-Manette Wallis | July 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      I don’t remember if it was the expression upon her face like that of a haunted jackrabbit, or the fact that she chose to adorn herself in the color of putrid mustard, but as the bicycle sped by I somehow knew that I had escaped the feminine wiles of Tilly Tiddleson like a beast from the snare of the fowler.

    25. Isabella Hodge | July 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      I mean dash it all, what’s a girl to do with a horned devilish fellow pursuing her on a bike, of all things?! I booked it and sped on, the old lemon throbbing wildly, and persp. flowing freely in salty gallons down the face.

    26. Lorin Stein | July 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      If you wish to enter the contest, please remember to send your mini-story to contests@theparisreview.org!

    27. m. t. whitington | July 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      devil on a beater

      i spoke and who should appear as i hopped on my indie beater,
      i take a glance over my shoulder,
      the devil is right on my wheel growing colder.
      riding to hell on a green roadster beater,
      feeling the black road burning up like a meteor,
      i made no deal and i wish i could ride with you,
      because as they say: “you and me and the devil makes two”.
      but alas you will not catch me on my green roadster beater
      i’ve traveled that road of good intentions,
      my fury and scorn are my own hell of my own volition.
      my scarf is blowing in the wind,
      and all i want is to feel i have not sinned,
      riding in peace on my green indie beater.

    28. Elliot Nesterman | July 18, 2012 at 1:19 am

      I’m trying to boil this down to 300 words, but I’m not awfully sanguine about the
      outcome. So I thought I’d post the fuller example for the fun of it.

      “Bike Thee Behind Me, Satan”
      Niffy Mainwaring and Billie Menzies had been engaged about six months when one morning he turned up on my doorstep looking like something the cat had coughed up.
      “What ho, Niffy, old son. Whence this bedragglement?”
      “It’s off, Reggie. She’s given me the shove.”
      “Come in, sit down and unburden, old man.”
      Though rather choked up, a stiff W&S soon loosened the floodgates and he began to spill.
      It seems he and Billie had had words over the presumptive best man. Niffy wanted me to stand up for him. After all, we’d been pals since school, even before he was called Niffy.
      (He’d gotten that moniker in the fourth form, when he’d returned from a less than successful ramble in the woods smelling like an unsavory Aberdeen terrier; and it was his peculiar fate to live up to that unusual sobriquet. It’s not that his natural fragrance was opprobrious, fresh from the bath he’d the aura of dew on the rose, but he had the misfortune of attracting aromas. If he passed a cheese shop the Limburger would fairly leap from the case and cling to him like a limpet. He once said to me that he’d be hanged before he’d visit America. “They have skunks there, Reggie.” And if you think it odd that a fellow wouldn’t stick at being called Niffy, you only need to consider that his Christian name was Beverly.)
      Billie, however, wanted her brother, Wendell, to stand at Niffy’s right hand.
      “I know you’ve always considered Wendell to be a bit of a pill, Niffy, old bean, but if it will pour oil on the roiled waters of romance I’m glad to forgo the chumly prerogatives.”
      “Reggie, I’m afraid I got a bit hot. You see, she said that she’d never consider having as a member of the wedding a man with your taste in ties.”
      Now, I’ve been called many things in my time, and there are many aspersions cast on my character I’m willing to put up with in the cause of helping out a pal, but this was too much. We Peppers have a code, which has come down to us from the days of chivalry, that the fairer sex always be treated with the greatest respect. But when you start deprecating a fellow’s tie, well, that’s the thingummy that broke the whats-it’s back, and I’m afraid my language became rather ripe.
      “Oh, I say! I mean, really! I say, don’t you know!” Pretty strong stuff, I’ll admit, but in my defense, I was distraught.
      “Almost my words exactly, Reggie.”
      “Still, while I understand her being upset at such language, it seems a bit much to chuck the whole engagement.”
      “There was something else,” he admitted. “In the throes of defending the old school honor, I happened to opine that her brother was a simpering pustule for whom parboiling was too good.”
      “Ah, I see the difficulty. No woman likes to hear her near and dear, however great a gawd-help-us he may be, referred to as a simpering excrescence.”
      “Pustule.”
      “Even better. So that’s when she broke it off?”
      “No, that’s when she hit me with the niblick. She gave me the push afterwards. What am I to do, Reggie? I love her!”
      “This requires thought, Niffy. And an empty stomach is no fulcrum upon which to place a lever that can move the world, as that Greek chappie had it.”
      After getting outside of a couple of good chops and a companionly half-bottle of claret at the Savoy, we rubbered round to the Drones and settled down to a couple of B&Ses and some serious head scratching.
      “You know, Niffy, everyone knows that Billie’s been devoted to you ever since you squashed that wasp for her at the Drones’ picnic. Seems to me you only have to give her a day or two to cool down and when next you meet the warm regard in which she holds you will reassert itself.”
      “You think I’ve not considered that? But she is adamant that she will not see me for any reason. She’s refusing me entrance at her flat. The doorman has orders to turn me away, with prejudice if necessary. I simply don’t know how I’m to get together with her.”
      Just then Gussie Fink-Nottle sidled up with the clear intent to engage in conversation. Gussie’s a fine fellow, but we’d no desire at that point to listen to him go on about his favorite subject. For once, however, the topic he’d in mind was not newts.
      “Cheers, Chaps. Any idea yet what you’re wearing to the party?”
      “Not that it’s germane to our current discussion,” I said, “but what party is this?”
      “Why the fancy dress. The Anacreon club is throwing a fancy dress next week at Ambleton Hall down in Hampshire.”
      “Niffy,” I cried, “isn’t Billie in the ladies auxiliary of the Anacreon? Surely she’ll be at that do. All we need is to get on the guest list.”
      “And how are we to do that?”
      “Nothing simpler,” chimed in Gussie, “Emerald is on the party committee. She’ll put you on the list.”
      “Yes,” moaned Niffy, “but if Billie gets wind I’m going she’ll be sure to stay away.”
      “Why would Billie stay away from her fiance?” asked Gussie. So we put him wise to the sitch.
      “No problem at all,” he said, “Emerald will be thrilled to help the cause of true love and all that. I’m sure she can keep your prospective attendance dark until the last min. And then it’ll be too late for Billie to absent herself.”
      One thing about Gussie, he’ll come through for a friend in a pinch, even if newts don’t enter into the equation.

      A week later, the Pierrot outfit rented, I was standing outside Ambleton Hall waiting for Niffy to turn up. Ambleton Hall, if you’ve never been, is one of those stately old piles wherein the family, while venerable in the extreme, has of late fallen on hard times. Three quarters of the rooms were pretty permanently shut up, the family lived in a modest set of suites on the top floor, and the ballroom and other large public spaces were rented out for weddings, balls and other festivities. All in all a pretty good dodge. Kept the family on the grounds and the house out of the hands of creditors or the National Trust.
      Finally Niffy arrived dressed in the most complete devil’s costume I’d ever seen.
      “What’s that on your feet?”
      “They’re a kind of high-heeled boot. Don’t they look like hooves?”
      “Yes. But how do you expect to dance in those things?”
      “Girls do it all the time. How hard can it be?”
      Pretty hard, as it turns out.
      After a couple of cups of the rather stiff punch they were serving, Niffy had got round Billie enough for her to let him lead her onto the floor. But in those devilish boots it was all he could do to keep his footing. The worst of it was that he kept treading on her costume. She’d come dressed as a “Muse of Modern Dance,” all chiffon and gauze, and her trailing scarf continually insinuated itself between his feet and the floor.
      Now, as I’ve intimated, we Peppers have a Code, and one of its articles is that a gentleman, as the leader in the dance, while he may not be the proximate cause of missteps on the lady’s part, must accept ultimate accountability for any mishaps. Many’s the time I’ve apologized to a partner for mistakenly placing my foot where hers was just about to come down. I’m sure the Mainwarings have their own code, but I suspect it is not as punctilious as that of the Peppers.
      I’d just stepped out onto the portico for a cigarette when Billie came tearing out of the hall and legged it down the drive. There was a rack of bicycles further along and she hopped on one and took off. Niffy stumbled out a moment later, and seeing her making off grabbed another machine and pursued. Though attempting to overtake with manly perseverance, he was making no headway. He just couldn’t get good purchase on the pedals while wearing that getup. Makes you realize why they’re called velocipedes, not velocihooves.
      So there was Billie, flying down the road, scarf streaming behind, for all the world like Isadora Duncan about to be throttled in an Amilcar, and Niffy well behind, pedaling for all he was worth but losing ground every furlong; a veritable lack-of-speed demon. As they disappeared round a bend I ran after them, expecting nothing more than to buck up Niffy and tell him all was not lost, and if at first you don’t succeed and that sort of thing. But when I rounded the bend I found I wasn’t needed.
      It was the scarf that did it. Like that of the well-known danseuse it’d gotten tangled in the spokes, but to far less fatal consequence, merely throwing Billie a tumble. Niffy was sitting on the ground, cradling Billie’s head and murmuring how much he loved her and how he was sorry and that of course Wendell could be the best man, he was a lovely boy, merely misunderstood, and covering her face in kisses. And as Billie came round and opened her eyes and saw the concern and regret in Niffy’s face, her resolve melted, and so did she.
      “Oh, Beverly!”
      “Oh, Wilhelmina!”
      Beverly and Wilhelmina! I ask you!

    29. Sean | July 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    30. Lorin Stein | July 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      Ha! Thank you, Sean — fake duly noted, correction made!

    31. Patricia | July 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      What are the official rules and restrictions for the bike giveaway?

    32. MildManneredPervert | July 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      Patricia – the rules of the contest are the person who draws the best picture of George Plimpton riding a Trek Y-Foil wins.

    33. Sean | July 20, 2012 at 3:07 am

      I’m pretty sure the contest is now closed. I sincerely doubt that anybody will be able to surpass BSNYC’s entry. I never believed that spondee could be too good, until now…

    34. Mark Farrell | July 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Hi, I’m Mark. I hope people like this, I just kind of wrote it. Thanks Markie for letting us know about the contest!

      Bike ties to rider; he is hinted red.
      Toes, or fingers, the edges of his red body,
      reach down to pedal, the picture a map
      the riders ride on. The wheels spin
      on the larger wheel of world. Riders twin
      as the world their wheels try to wrap.
      Paris lies in its greener part.

      Women’s dress yellow, tinted by
      her halo, her head turns with wheel.
      Devil not sober, and on a revolving
      distance chases her. Both on a track
      that thins in past instance. In distance
      feel wind, wind that remembers where
      each spun.

      Crimson figure wishes two were one,
      but woman finds wind better. Even
      though head turns, she continues ahead.
      The pedals mark way she sped, as she
      looks back into past distance. Does not,
      though, discontinue her pace towards
      future.

      The present is defined by how
      we both acknowledge past but continue.
      No choice for us but to know the land,
      the distance, and that we’ve lost
      what has came before. Even if past is
      better than what comes.

    35. Mark Farrell | July 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      Oh crap I forgot the style: Elizabeth Bishop. Maybe I’m disqualified then? Oops.

    36. Laura | July 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      When will you let the winner know?

    37. Michelle in NYC | July 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      The email address for submissions is contests@theparisreview.org. but is not being recognized by my mailer. Help. Its 4:38 Sunday the 22nd and I have finally whittled my piece down to under 300 words after 6 drafts!

    38. Michelle in NYC | July 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      The Virgin Willow Incident
      by Michelle Slater

      Neddie, dismounted his bicycle, and stared in horror at the gaggle of people surrounding an ancient weeping willow that marked the northeast boundary of his estate.

      “What’s this?” he asked Mavis Perkins, the postmistress. She pointed to the tree with a rosary wrapped, hand–”It’s the blessed virgin,” she whispered reverently. “What?” he shouted. “The Virgin, Mister Lumly, come to save us.” Edging closer, he saw an oval-shaped wound at eye level on the trunk, but observed no woman there. He mounted his bike, just as a hymn rose, piercing the silence of what had been a perfect Saturday afternoon. Switching his destination from the club to Roland’s cottage, he sped off toward the Village.

      Roland Pointer, since retiring from service to the Lumlys, had come to expect Neddie’s desperate visits, and was usually able to steer the poor boy in the right direction. Having already heard from Squire Cyril about the tree worshipers, he was prepared for Neddie’s arrival: “Sir, becalm yourself. We’ll visit this apparition together after a fortifying meal.” Relieved, Neddie accepted food, and three glasses of sherry, listening gratefully, as Roland outlined his plan. After dark, they repaired to the site, where the Squire and his grounds crew met them. Work was completed before midnight.

      The following morning, when the faithful returned, they were shocked to find the willow replaced by this sign–”Private Property. No Trespassing”. Across the road, at St. Anne’s, an illuminated sign announced–”Willow Virgin Shrine. All are Welcome.” Within, on a side alter, the portion of the stump containing the wound was decoratively mounted, with votive candles offered for purchase nearby.

      Thus it was that peace returned, church revenue increased, Mavis was saved, the Squire acquired logs to last through next Winter, and Neddie slept till noon.

    39. Michelle in NYC | July 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Loren–I have submitted three ways because the address contests@parisreview.org is not being accepted by my mailer. I SO want a chance to win that bicycle.

    40. Marji | July 22, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Help! I have been trying to submit my entry, but it will not accept your email address, can you give another? It’s now moments before deadline and my story is ready!

    41. Marji | July 23, 2012 at 12:01 am

      Okay, here is mine. I’m sorry, but this is the only way I can figure to submit it! (Hemingway)….

      Pusher

      The first time they biked the island he had no idea what he was in for.

      “Wow,” he had said the first time he watched her butt from behind for that whole long hill, and finally now level, had pulled up beside her. “I’m impressed!”

      “By what?” she had said, smiling.

      “You didn’t stop on the hill.”

      “Why would I stop on the hill?”

      “It’s just I never met a woman who could do that.”

      “That’s crazy. It’s easier to keep going.”

      “I thought I’d never catch you.”

      She said nothing. Just stared and smiled. Then she sped off.

      At Shark Reef while sitting between his legs on a sunny rock watching the walruses, she would learn of his beautiful black girlfriend who left kinky hair on the carpet while his wife worked nights as a Michigan prison guard, his 4-year old daughter asleep upstairs.

      By then it was too late. She was already hooked.

      Months and even years passed, framing a tender, consuming passion that met itself at the end of feverish droughts. But for now they had the island, their island.

      Before they caught the boat back, she suggested one last ride. They rode through town and past the bay to the long hill, where she pedaled as hard as she could. Her thighs screamed and her lungs burned. Soon the space between them was long and wide. She was far enough ahead that he couldn’t hear her heart explode. He was far enough behind that she couldn’t hear him trying.

      Going down, she let him pass. His wind swirled her hair and caressed her face, drying it. And then he stopped.

      “Want some?” He grabbed his bottle and pushed it to her, head cocked.

      She looked into him while she drained it. Then she sped off.

    42. Alexandra Palmer | July 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Lorin,
      will the entries be posted in this thread or somewhere else on the site?
      Thank you,
      Sasha

    43. Lorin Stein | July 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      Hi there, Sasha. The finalists will have a post of their own.

    44. Alexandra Palmer | July 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you, Lorin :-)

    45. RC | July 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      Hi Lorin

      When will the finalists be announced? Thanks very much!

    46. Lorin Stein | July 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      Tomorrow — we’d hoped to announce today, but we have so many submissions, it’s taking slightly longer than expected! Apologies, and many thanks for your patience.

    47. Theo Zbriejski | August 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      I have to say I’m more than a bit dismayed that after all the hard work I put in I never even received a response that my entry was received, or that the contest winner had been chosen. Bad business to not respond to your readers.
      So here is my piece, which casts Hemingway as an impotent old man. I thought it was humorous:

      “I’m going to take a bath.”
      She went into the bathroom, fully dressed, and he lay on the bed. He had spent the morning
      writing. Nothing good. It hadn’t been good since they left Lucerne. And now there was this.
      There had been talk of a baby, but they had known it would be difficult due to the age
      difference. Now this had been another small death in their ability to feel for one another. She said it was
      not important, but what could a woman know about it.
      When she came out of the bathroom she loosened her towel with her back to him. Halfway
      inside the bathroom door she pulled on a light cable-knit sweater and green shorts. Her legs had turned
      a dark brown from tanning in the sun every day.
      On their way out, madame offered the use of les vélos, but when they were brought up from
      the garden they both had flat tires. “Take them,” she said. “The man at town can fix for you.” So they
      walked the six blocks into town pushing the bicycles up hill.
      At the café they had trout with a lemon sauce for lunch. The fish was wild, and tasted fresh. The
      wine was crisp and the coldness was refreshing in the dry heat. He soaked up the remaining lemon oil
      with the crusts of the bread.
      When they left the café they stopped to take the bicycles and he handed the boy half a centime.
      On the ride back he tired at the hill, and blamed it on the thin Spanish air. Once they arrived they
      stowed the bicycles alongside the stairs and crossed the road to head down to the water. There was just
      enough daylight left to see the sun set over the Balearic Sea.

      (Now look at the picture and tell me it isn’t right…)

    48. Theo Zbriejski | August 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      Sublimely humorous, but humorous non the less.

    49. Lorin Stein | August 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      Thanks, Mr Zbriejski. I’m sorry to have disappointed you, but we did say when we would make the announcement. (You do see it would be impractical to write back to each of the two hundred contestants!)

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