This year’s event is on Saturday 10 June 2017 with a theme ‘Heroes and Villains’
Preparations are in place the Great Knaresborough Bed Race, the mother of all bed races, which will be held on Saturday 10 June in the medieval streets of this wonderful North Yorkshire market town. It is the 52nd, uninterrupted staging of this event since it was first held in 1966.
Roads are closed from midday until 5.00 pm in the centre of the town, from Harrogate Golf Club, High Bond End and the High Street. Extra train services are anticipated and bus services will run all day up Gracious Street from Low Bridge. There is a free park and ride service operating between GSPK on Manse Lane and ALM on Grimbald’s Crag Close, and Chapel Street.
The theme for this year’s unmissable event is ‘Heroes and Villains’ in a nod to the tens of thousands of people who have taken part in this great event as it passes into its sixth decade. The Bed Race programme describes the many characters from the town’s past who have also exhibited villainous or heroic characteristics – and there are more than you think!
Countdown begins in the morning as the teams and their beds arrive in the grounds of Knaresborough Castle and are decorated in their very best interpretations of the theme. Here, they are judged for the Best Dressed Bed awards with the winners announced at noon. At 1.00 pm the Parade starts, headed by the bed deemed the best dressed, and accompanied by marching bands and dance groups.
They pass from the Castle to the Market Place, down High Street and Bond End and into Conyngham Hall fields where, at the far end, the decorations are divested and the teams prepare for the Race.
The main event starts at 3.00 pm with teams setting off at 10-second intervals from the grounds of Conyngham Hall to charge around the 2.4-mile course. This takes them through the Conyngham parkland onto Waterside and through the Nidd Gorge, before the steep and lung-bursting ascent up Castle Ings. The teams spin around the Market Place, before hurting down the High Street and Bond End and crossing High Bridge. From there they run through McIntosh Field back to the opposite bank of the river to where they started.
The final act is the 30-yard swim through the invariably icy waters of the River Nidd, teams, passenger, bed and all, before reaching the finish line.
It all adds up to being an exhilarating day, says President of the Knaresborough Lions Martin Brock. “Being Yorkshire, the race is fiercely contested. Each year the faster teams edge out their competitors by seconds and are just minutes quicker than most of the slower teams.
Martin said: Everyone has someone to beat, even if it is themselves by besting their previous years’ time. The winners gain the overall bragging rights but there are plenty of scores to settle through the race field and many teams put their main focus into winning the Best Dressed Bed awards.
Bed Race is charity time
Bed Race is organised by volunteers from the Knaresborough Lions Club and provides a vehicle for money to be raised for charity and good causes. It costs about £26,000 for the event to be staged, which involves road closures, traffic management, crowd barriers, licenses, the printing of the programme, signage, hire of equipment and materials.
The Lions look to cover these costs through sponsorship, team entry fees, sales of the programme, and income from spectators entering Conyngham Hall fields (by programme or £2 per adult). Money raised over and above costs goes to Lions charities, a minimum of 80 per cent of which is donated to local good causes. Teams use the event to raise money for their own charities and other local groups and charities are involved in the day to raise funds.
Apart from the 630 runners and riders of the 90 teams, there are hundreds more paraders, young and old, supporting the teams, as well as dance groups and marching bands. It is believed that another couple of thousand people help in decorating the beds and stitching the costumes. Some 250 volunteers turn out to marshal the event and provide other support to the Knaresborough Lions.
Knaresborough Lion’s organising committee Chairman, Richard Hall said: It is a real community effort to organise and participate in the great Knaresborough Bed Race. It typifies the wonderful spirit in our community and is a massive event for Knaresborough’s town centre businesses.
But the event is also marked by warm and welcoming spectators, volunteer marshals by the hundreds and many others who help make this a wonderful family day for everyone concerned.
First staged in 1966
The first Bed Race was held in 1966 and was fated to be run in stormy weather, which kept spectator numbers down. But the organisers recognised that they were onto a successful idea, which matched perfectly the up-and-down terrain of Knaresborough and the layout of its medieval streets.
By the early 1970s, the idea of adding the extra contest of decorating the beds and the runners had emerged. Difficult weather conditions have recurred over the years but the event has never been cancelled by wind or rain, although the river crossing has been abandoned twice when the water level swelled to dangerous depths. But , come hell or high water, there is always a Bed Race in Knaresborough!
From the early days, teams of US servicemen from Menwith Hill and Germans from Bebra, the Knaresborough twin town, have taken part. This has helped spread the concept of racing beds internationally. There are now scores of bed races in North America, Europe, South Africa, Asia and Australasia, and in 2017 Knaresborough Lions helped a group establish a bed race in Bunbury, Western Australia, who use the event to raise money for local hospitals.
Richard Hall said: We don’t know if bed racing started here but it was in Knaresborough that it took off. Because it has spawned so many other events, it began to be called the Great Knaresborough Bed Race around 20 years ago.
As far as we can see, what we have that others don’t is the spectacular topography of Knaresborough itself: the Gorge, the Castle, the steep ascents, cobbled streets and the River Nidd. The town of Knaresborough is the real hero of Bed Race.
A striking feature of life in Knaresborough in the months leading up to Bed Race day is the sight of teams running through the town in the evenings and at weekends with their beds, preparing for the momentous challenge of Bed Race.
And if you venture down to Conyngham Hall in May you will chance to see a dedicated team or two emerging dripping from the River Nidd after having practiced their technique for the river crossing.
Results from 2016:
Fastest Team Planet Steel
Fastest Female Team Ripon Runners Girls
Fastest Mixed Team Flo-Mon Bandits
Fastest Junior Team Harrogate Rugby Racers
Fastest Junior Mixed Team 1st Scriven Scouts
Best Dressed Bed Hiscox
In addition, a special award for their contribution to Bed Race was presented to St John Fisher’s Catholic School.
Getting to Knaresborough and Road Closures
Free park-and-ride services provided by Transdev will run on Bed Race day between GSPK on Manse Lane, just off the York Road, and the town centre. ALM Manufacturing is managing its own free park-and-ride from their site on Grimbalds Crag Close and will be ferrying people from there to town.
The parking premises will open in the morning and will close at 6 pm in the evening. It is important that people move their cars before 6 pm as the premises will be locked.
Both parking and Park and Ride services are free. Northern Rail has made provision for those arriving by train to ensure that everything contributes to making this a great family day out.
Roads in and around Knaresborough are closed to traffic from the middle of the day until 5.00 pm. The Market and Silver Street are closed from noon, the High Street, Bond End, part of Boroughbridge Road and Harrogate Road are closed from 12.30 pm. There are closures, too, affecting Cheapside, Castlegate, part of Brewerton Street, Fisher Street, Castle Ings and Waterside from Castle Mills to High Bridge.
Race Arena and Field
Spectators coming to Conyngham Hall Field will be able to watch events unfold on an 18-metre Big Screen, designed to operate come rain or shine – the Lions hope for more of the latter. There will be two or three roaming cameras recoding the best of the Parade and the Race, while feeding live footage of the teams swimming the river to the Big Screen.
Lions President Martin Brock, said: There is much that people want to see at Bed Race and it is difficult to enjoy vantage points where you can get a good overall view of the action.
By locating the screen in Conyngham Hall field thousands of people will be able to see what is happening and will get a close-up view of what is perhaps the most stunning part of Bed Race, the river crossing, she commented.
There will be bars and catering, rides for kids and stalls manned by local charity groups at Conyngham Hall. Entrance to Conyngham Hall fields is by Programme or £2 per adult; children under sixteen enter free.
Further details are available on www.bedrace.co.uk
- Ripon Runners Men MfC
- GH Brooks Mf
- Nidd Valley Men’s A Team MfC
- Knaresborough Striders Men MfC
- Guardian Alarms Mf
- Nidd Valley Men’s B Team MfC
- Flying Pullman XfC
- Knaresborough Rugby Club Mf
- Welly Wheelers Mf
- The Half Moon Mf
- Stephenson’s Rockets Mf
- Flying Mechanics Mf
- Six Pack MfC
- Blue Bullet Flyers MfC
- Harrogate Rugby Racers JMf
- Ripon Runners Girls FfC
- JP’s Disciples of Fitness Xf
- The Plodders Mf
- Pelsis Flyers Mf
- St John Fishers Mf
- Round Table 1 Mf
- Welly Wheeners Xf
- Mott MacDonald Leeds Mf
- The Hairy Fairies Mf
- The Deer Hunters Mf
- Parkrunners Xf
- Green-Tech Ltd Mf
- RAF Menwith Hill Me
- P&G Team 1 Xf
- The Swiss Rolls Xf
- Welly Wheelettes Ff
- Meadowside Malingerers Me
- CBRE Me
- St John’s Juggernauts Mf
- Round Table 2 Me
- The Rocket Men Mf
- Commercial Estates Group Mf
- HACS 1 Me
- HACS 2 Me
- Bed Zeppelin Mf
- Clarity Clodhoppers Xf
- Pretty Paws Xe
- Techbuyer Ltd Mf
- Nidd Valley Ladies Team FfC
- Knaresborough Striders Ladies FfC
- Raworths Solicitors Xe
- Y-Not Ambulance Boys Me
- Turners Tearaways Me
- The Dazzling Bobbies Me
- Knaresborough Silver Band Me
- Aspin Avengers Me
- Taylors of Harrogate Me
- SESKU Little Un Me
- Sentinel Sprinters Me
- CNG Xe
- Scotton Scorchers Jfe
- Stray Savers Xe
- Skylarks Ff
- High Street Heroes Xe
- Piccadilly Fillies Ff
- Rabbit Hill Country Store Ff
- 6th Gear Xe
- St Johns PTA ‘B’ Team Xe
- Welly Wheelies JXf
- Harrogate Theatre Xe
- Pelsis Rat Racers Xe
- Oatlands Infants Mixed Xe
- Mums On The Run Fe
- Piston Broke Xe
- Mowbray Magic Xe
- Meadowside Maidens Fe
- Ripley Castle Xe
- Harrison Spinks Xe
- Knaresborough Strollers Xe
- Team Sanderson Xe
- Team Red Beer Xe
- Bedknobs & Broomsticks Me
- Speedy Girlzales Fe
- Tomrods Are Go! Fe
- Tewit Youth Band JMe
- 1st Knaresborough Scouts JXf
- 1st Scriven Scouts JXe
- Saint Michael’s Hospice Staff Fe
- Hearing Dogs for Deaf People Fe
- King James’s Female Junior sp’ by CNG JFe
- Aspin Park Primary School PTA Fe
- Rainbow Runners Fe
- Bedraggled Fe
CATEGORIES ARE: Mf male fast; Ff female fast; Xf mixed fast; JMf junior male fast; Me male entertaining; Fe female entertaining; Xe mixed entertaining; JX junior mixed.