IELTS Cue Card Sample 368 - Describe a time when you got lost

IELTS Speaking Part 2: IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card.

Describe a time when you got lost.

You should say:

  • when it happened
  • where it happened
  • how old were you

and explain how you felt when you got lost.

Model Answer:
Oh no, this is a great topic to talk about and it is slightly embarrassing to describe! You ask how old I was when I got lost as if this is something that can only happen to you as a child. Unfortunately, the example I am thinking about is rather more recent.  I’ll try and explain what happened, where – I will tell you how old I was if you like, and I’ll certainly describe what it felt like too.

So, the situation was just a couple of months ago. I’ve fairly recently taken up a new hobby of running. I’m not very good at it, I’m very slow, and I just like to use it as a way to see interesting and beautiful sceneries. I prefer running trails, that is going cross country, rather than running on roads, but that can be a problem as you need to be able to navigate, and I’m not very good at that either! I heard about a fell race that was taking place a short drive away from where I live. It was a 5 mile route across open countryside, such events usually use footpaths and some trails, but there is a risk you can lose your way. Because I’d never done anything like this before I emailed the organisers in advance. I explained I was worried about getting lost and that I was also very slow, so I didn’t want to find myself stuck out on the open moor when night fell! I got a lovely reply. The organiser assured me that she herself could ‘get lost going upstairs in my own house’ so she had personally put out really clear markers along the whole route. What’s more, there would be a back-marker bringing up the rear. ‘Honestly’ she said ‘there is really no way you can get lost or come last, I promise!’ Can you guess what happened?

The day of the event dawned. Everyone took off, and after the first couple of miles, I found I was running alone. All the faster runners had sprinted off out of sight. I wasn’t last, I could at first hear the back-marker laughing and joking with some really slow runners at the back – one of whom had to go extra steady because of a heart condition. The course was well-marked, and I enjoyed running through woodland, lolloping through fields and even along a few country paths. Towards the end of the race, I entered a thick patch of trees. The marker flags turned off sharply to the right and I followed them – straight to the banks of a stream. I was really confused, the path just ended at the water. I went on for a bit, but no more way markers or signs, I stared at the water again. I retraced my steps, but the signs were really clear. Then I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment, I suddenly realised this was a fell race so it was designed to be challenging. I ‘obviously’ had to just wade across the stream to the other side, and so I did. Only to end up in really thick bracken and bramble undergrowth. There was no path there. I was so confused, I crossed back over the river, and repeatedly checked for signs, but I just couldn’t find the route. In the end, I double backed about half a mile to try and find the backmarker, but they had vanished too. After about 10 minutes (though it felt like much longer) I found a different way out of the woods and saw the race finish. Everyone was there waiting for me in a bit of a panic, as they couldn’t work out how the backmarker (who was supposed to come in last to make sure everyone had finished safely) had somehow come back before me. Because we all had numbers, they had realised that I was still out on the course but they couldn’t work out where I could possibly be. I ran back rather lopsidedly, and soaking wet from having waded back and forth across the stream countless times. Breathless at the end I explained that I was sure I’d followed the path correctly yet somehow I had achieved the impossible thing of both getting lost AND finishing last!  It didn’t make any sense…

The organisers couldn’t understand it, they went back into the woods to see what had happened. It turned out that some vandals had set a false trail in the woods. The other runners had all been in sight of someone in front so hadn’t really been looking at the markers, only following the person in front. The back marker was local and knew the way, so she too hadn’t needed to check the route either. Hence, it was only me that got caught out. How unlucky! So how old was I, well fifty – you apparently don’t have to be a child in a fairy tale to get lost in the woods! As to how I felt, well initially confused, a little alarmed and then embarrassed as I couldn’t work out how it happened. Once there was an explanation I felt a bit better. The event organisers were lovely and friendly and very concerned that his had happened – but it wasn’t their fault, it was just one of those unlucky things. However, once it was all over, I thought it was hilarious. No one was hurt and in a funny way, it boosted my confidence because the two things I’d dreaded most had happened, and actually, it didn’t matter one bit! Even so, next time, I think I’ll look at the intended route more carefully on a map before setting off!

[ Written by - Lucy Marris: Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]


Similar Cue Card Topics

Your ability to talk about this Cue Card would enable you to talk about the following Cue Cards as well:

  1. Describe an interesting childhood memory you have. 
  2. Describe an unknown place where you got lost. 
  3. Describe an unusual thing happened to you. 
  4. Describe a bad experience you have. 
  5. Describe a funny experience you have.
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