Why You Need to See This English Town’s Annual 'Bed Race'
Perhaps more people would participate in races if you didn’t have to get out of bed for them. One town in northern England has been testing that theory for more than 50 years with the annual “Great Knaresborough Bed Race.”
Since 1966, the town of Knaresborough has hosted an event that requires teams of six people to push a bed through 2.4 miles of track and then finish with a swim in the River Nidd.
The North Yorkshire town started the race as a way to raise funds for charity. Today it’s become an annual extravaganza that’s part pageant part grueling physical activity, with each team raising funds for their own individual causes. Each competing team is made up of seven people: six to parade the bed throughout the town and one person to sit in it like a king. (There is also a contest for best-decorated bed so the least physical but most artistic teams stand a chance at winning something.)
The course sends competitors up a steep grassy bank and along Knaresborough’s waterfront. The race continues through a gorge, around the town’s old cobbled streets, down its main High Street and finishes with a 20-yard swim across the River Nidd. Remember this is all done while carrying a bed with a person in it.
The fastest teams finish the course in around 14 minutes while the slowest usually clock in somewhere around 30 minutes. After the competitors are finished, everyone gathers in town for a parade and a party in the streets.
The race only accepts 90 teams per year and this year’s spots are all filled up. However, you can still go and watch the spectacle take place. (Arguably, it’s even more fun to stand on the sidelines, listen to the marching bands and watch 630 people push a bed around a town.)
The race takes place every second Sunday in June.