The Great Knaresborough Bed Race of 2011 attracted a crowd of about 25,000 people eager to see one of the wackiest races in the world.
When the popular bed race was first organized, in 1965, it was considered so difficult that only members of the Army, Navy and American Marines were allowed to take part, but nowadays everyone is allowed to compete, as long as they pay an entrance fee and have a bed decorated according to the annual theme. This year, 90 teams from as far as Germany and the USA came to Knaresborough to compete in one of the strangest, most fun races on Earth.
Teams participating in the Great Knaresborough Bed Race are made up of six runners, a decorated bed and one member brave enough to sit on the bed. The runners have to carry the bed through the 3-km-long countryside course, while the seventh member tries to hold on for dear life. The race starts easily enough, along the banks of the River Nidd, but turns into a nightmare halfway through, as teams face five difficult hill climbs to Castle Fort. Going downhill is no picnic either, especially for the guy sitting on the bed, but if they manage to reach the bottom, they’re faced with the final hurdle, crossing the river.
In order to enter the race, teams have to present a floating bed, and for good reason. One important part of the Knaresborough bed race is crossing the Nidd River. Battling the currents, teams have to swim and carry the beds upstream, ready to scramble towards the finish line, as soon as they reach the other side. While most teams actually struggle to cross the finish line first, some are most interested in winning the award for best costumes and bed decorations. This year, the fastest of the 90 teams was the Harrogate Harriers who finished in just 14:24 minutes. The last team finished in 30:06.