In June, one of the most extraordinary and hilarious community events in the UK – The Great Knaresborough Bed Race usually takes place in Knaresborough town centre. First held in 1966, this spectacular event has been going strong every year.
The fun usually begins in the morning with the gathering of all the beds in the grounds of Knaresborough Castle. Competing race teams attire themselves and their beds to create a colourful fancy dress pageant. Judges announce the award for the best dressed team/bed and at 1pm, the decorated beds and their supporters parade through the historic town of Knaresborough, There is a further award for the most entertaining team, judged during the procession. Bands add to the festive atmosphere. On arriving at Conyngham Hall Field, where people are enjoying amusement, charity, food and drink stalls, there is a Bed Race Welcome Ceremony conducted by the Mayor of Knaresborough. Decorations on the beds are then taken down and the fancy clothing replaced by running gear, ready for the start of the race.
To the delight of the thousands of spectators, who come from far and wide to cheer on the participants, the race begins. There are 90 competing teams of six runners and a passenger, who leave in 10 second intervals at the starting line. From there, they hurtle through the parkland, along Waterside, before ascending the challenging steep climb up to the Market Place, through the town centre, across High Bridge, and finally swimming 30 yards cross the icy waters of the River Nidd to the finishing line. The total distance is 2.4 miles which takes the fastest teams 15 minutes to complete, whilst the slowest take a lot longer! Competitors for the event can be seen on the route practising and getting into shape for the race, months in advance.
The event is organised by the volunteer Knaresborough Lions, to raise funds for worthy causes.
There are park and ride and extra public transport facilities for all those wishing to join in this daylong fun event.
Contributed by Margy Longhurst – Yorkshire Blue Badge Guide