OK, here is the this weeks puzzle.  As ever, please do NOT post your answers, but do say if you think you have solved the puzzle and how long it took. Solution on Monday.

In the 10,000 metres final at the Olympics, John passed the runner in second place on the penultimate lap.  Then John himself was passed by two runners on the finishing straight.  What medal did John win?

I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.


  1. Yeah didn’t take long, I’ve heard of that rhetorical trick before. Still glad to see this before some douche posts the answer though.

    1. Help FBI to solve a real crime REAL PUZZLE:To accommodate the continuing interest in this case, we have established a page (http://forms.fbi.gov/code) where the public can offer their comments and theories about the coded messages.

  2. Yep, another ambiguous question, but it’s fairly clear how we’re meant to answer it, and it seemed very easy to me.

  3. Solved it as I read the problem so only a few seconds. Read problem to my wife who also solved it straight away.

    1. Sigh. Yes, it depends on whether John gets eaten by a purple robot manatee, but I think it’s fairly safe to shelve the self-righteous pedantry and take the puzzle at face value.

  4. Where all runners in the same lap? Any other incidents not listed? 10000 metres is a long run so it is not clear if they all are in the same lap… Did the leading runner got a heart attack before the finishing line? The solution for a straight 10000 m course is very simple…

  5. about 10 seconds for the most obvious correct solution, another minute for two others. didn’t see the ambiguity about the number of johns until getting to the comments.

    1. Same thing for me. After several minutes of thinking I’m still stuck with the obvious (and thus probably wrong) answer. I’m ignorant about athletics – is there anything nonobvious about the rules of 10km running relevant to this puzzle?

  6. 1 minute for what I think is the expected answer, but unfortunately I still think there are several possible correct answers that don’t require “interpreting the question” given the context of the question

    1. I make it four if you include the “someone dies before the finishing line” or “someone decides to walk off the track and not complete the race” options.
      I acknowledge that these are silly, however, and in the nit pickerising area.

    2. Also included the “Richard is not lying about the conditions of this puzzle” option, else there could be endless answers… 😉

  7. nit….pick…nit….pick…..nit…..pick….the question is ambiguous….nit….pick….nit….pick….nit…pick….it can be interpreted in different ways…..nit….pick….nit….pick….nit…..pick…..there are several different answers….nit …..pick….nit…..pick…..etc…..ad nauseum

  8. the puzz hinges on the apparent false conclusion people reach when ans’ing the question: “if you overtake the second in a race, what position are you now?”

    but is it a false conclusion? or, rather, are other ans’es possible other than the expected one? consid similar question: “if you overtake the last in a race, what position are you now?”

  9. I do wish there was a place where people could secretly post their answers. Then on Mondays we could see exactly how clever some of these posters actually are!

    1. Yeah, but they’ve usually tell us the questions are ambiguous, so their answers will be “right” even when they are wrong.

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