First staged in 1966, Bed Race has spawned other similar events in the USA, Germany, New Zealand and elsewhere in the UK. It is great fun, an amazing spectacle and, being held in Yorkshire, a truly serious competitive effort, pitting teams against their fiercest rivals, their erstwhile friends or even against themselves. Whatever happens, it is never good enough and each vows to be back to do better next year!
The competitors race in teams of six, plus one on the bed. Each team must provide their own bed, decorated in the theme for the year. The bed runs on four wheels, but also need to be able to float, as explained below.
The 3km run race begins and ends at Conyngham Hall. About halfway through the run, the teams face the one-in-five gradient climb to Castle Top before it’s back down the hill and toward the final challenge – crossing a river.
It takes the teams up a steep grassy bank and through parkland, along the scenic Waterside. Then they pass through the dramatic Nidd Gorge, up the steep Castle Ings, around the cobbled stones of the Marketplace, down the High Street and Bond End, and across High Bridge. The last stretch is on the rough ground of McIntosh Park before the notorious 20-yard swim across the fast-flowing Nidd.
There is no doubt that the real hero of Bed Race is the dramatic topography of Knaresborough itself.
The fastest teams do the course in around 14-minutes, sometimes quicker, and the slowest come in well under 30 minutes. Runners have to fit, fanatical and frankly a bit mad, while the passengers have to be light, be good swimmers and be able to shout loudly!
According to topendsports.com and bedrace.co.uk