I had a dream…
After a chance meeting at the fantastic Half Moon pub in Knaresborough, I was invited to race on a team in the Great Knaresborough Bed Race 2013.
Growing up in Knaresborough and seeing the beds whiz past each year it has been on my list of things to do for some time, so I couldn’t let this opportunity slip through my fingers.
Having not run properly for a few years the first training session was harrowing, so much so I had almost given my spot to our reserve runner before we had even got to the hill. It turned out that I wasn’t on a team just entering for fun, but one of a local running club, The Knaresborough Striders, who were keen for a good time and top 20 position.
Over the following few weeks, however, the training sessions seemed to get a little easier and a lot quicker each time (until we finally had a go with our passenger on-board, that was a whole new shock to the system).
The big day
So then, on the 8th June 2013, the day came. Up at 7am for final frantic tweaks to the castle and forest as we assembled the decorations on the bed. Then, dressed as Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and 4 merry men, the team, along with support crew, wheeled the bed carefully along to our sponsors, The Half Moon Inn, for a bit of dutch courage. And with traffic honking their horns behind us, we pushed the bed up to Knaresborough Castle to join the other 90 beds, and 540 runners, in full fancy dress ready for judging.
And as quick as the judges arrived, they had gone again, leaving us to relax, refuel and marvel at the sea of beds in the much enjoyed sunshine. There were aliens, pirates, ninjas, knights, Freddie Mercurys, the Bermuda Triangle, an X Wing (Star Wars), highway men, a worrying number of men dressed as tooth fairies and so many Lock Ness monsters and Scotsmen I honestly lost count. But the winner of best dressed bed, and deservedly so, was George and the Dragon by the First Scriven Scouts.
Following the leader
The army of scouts dressed as George and their dragon, with moving wings and flashing eyes, then lead the way out of the castle grounds for the parade. This in itself was quite an event, with numerous bands, dance troops and performers amongst the steady flow of brightly coloured beds. The crowds in the market square and down the high street were unbelievable, estimated between 20,000 and 30,000 people lined the route to see the carnival.
Down at Conyngham Hall, beds were stripped and decorations heartlessly dumped in skips in a last ditch effort to make the beds as lightweight as possible. There was a band on stage playing all the latest tunes and a big screen for the massing crowds to watch the race unfold. Funfair rides and food and drink stalls were also available for the hungry mob.
And they’re off
3pm then arrived and with a mass countdown and sound of a horn last years winners, Ripon Runners, were off. We were bed number 20 so, with 10 second intervals between beds, had to wait about 3 minutes before we got underway.
Up the grassy hill and along the spectator lined roads, we caught the team ahead quickly, maybe too quickly. We never got any closer along the riverfront, under the viaduct, and then on the hill they left us in their wake. The hill was a struggle in the afternoon heat and with our new member (our captain, with 20 years bed race experience, had to pull out, an hour before the race, due to illness).
Entering the Market Square, with crowds 5 or 6 deep, we were caught and overtaken. This didn’t get us down though, our passenger, Tilly, cracked the whip and we hung on valiantly along the high street. Down the hill my little legs were going as fast as physically possible, however somehow we were then overtaken again, just outside Henshaws, by a team high-fiving the crowd, making it look easy.
Again we managed to hang onto their coat tales on our approach to the river. Once in the river we gave the rope to our secret weapon, who single handedly dragged our bed across, even catching a few teams in the process. Then all that was left was to lift the bed out of the water, scramble up the bank and give it one last push across the line.
Fastest new team
We didn’t know it at the time but as the only person in our team with previous experience had pulled out due to illness, we had actually qualified as a new team. And not only that, we were the fastest new team!
Unfortunately we didn’t find that out until hours after, while we were enjoying our reward from the sponsors, a nice pint of Roosters Buckeye in the beer garden by the river, so we missed the prize giving ceremony. Not to worry, I’m sure the trophy will make it’s way to the Half Moon for the next time I stop in for a pint.
We also just scraped into the top 20, in 20th position, with a time of 16:51. The overall winners, putting us all to shame with an incredible time of 13:10, were Harrogate Harriers. For a full list of results click here.
All in all a fantastic day for the teams and supporters alike, great weather and plenty of fun to be had by all. Would I run it again?… to be decided.
Watch our highlights video, with clips of the parade, a supporters view of the race and on-board the bed.
If you want to come and join in the fun next year, just a few weeks before the Tour de France goes through Knaresborough, make sure you book your accommodation early.