Organised by Knaresborough Lions, Kevin Lloyd, the new chair of this spectacular community effort - which raises tens of thousands of pounds for charity - says he can’t wait for the big day on Saturday.
“After two fallow years, I am very excited that The Great Knaresborough Bed Race is back,” said Mr Lloyd.
“The world has changed but we look forward with optimism. No matter how dark things are the Bed Race will put a smile on your face.”
The Covid conditions of 2020 and 2021 made it impossible to stage the event, as Britain closed down under the weight of the pandemic.
The last event, in fact, took place in 2019, when the theme was ‘Yorkshire’ - and the skies opened in a graphic display of what Yorkshire weather can really do on a bad day.
Thankfully, the forecast this year is more benign, with sunny intervals, a top temperature of 19C and a gentle breeze on the cards for Knaresborough.
The theme for the event this time is “The Environment: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” with the teams, helpers and the public all being asked to reflect this in some way.
“We’re doing what we can to reinforce the environmental message,” said Mr Lloyd. “But we need people to come to the party. We asked this year’s teams to use recyclable and reusable materials in building their floats for the Parade.
“Helpers are being asked to assist us in cleaning up and reduce waste to a minimum, and we hope spectators will take on the message by using receptacles for their litter and, wherever they can, to take it home with them.”
The organisers themselves are as good as their word when it comes to the event’s green theme.
“The Knaresborough Lions are planning to plant 100 young trees in Horseshow Field on the opposite side of the river to where Bed Race starts and finishes,” said Mr Lloyd. “These have been kindly donated to us by our friends at RHS Harlow Carr, who have also sponsored the 2022 Bed Race.”
It is a whole day spectacle, starting around 10am and running into the evening with a fancy dress parade, catering and fun events at Conyngham Hall where the finishing line can be found - once the teams have swam across the chilly River Nidd.
Roads will be closed in central Knaresborough from 10.30am, reopening at around 6pm.
With crowds of up to 30,000 set to throng the streets of Knaresborough and Conyngham Hall, the Bed Race is not just a fun day out for the whole family, it matters to local charities and the local economy, too.
“It is a real community effort to organise and participate in the great Knaresborough Bed Race,” says Mr Lloyd. “It typifies the wonderful spirit in the town and is a massive event for Knaresborough’s businesses.
“But the event is also marked by warm and welcoming spectators, who help make this a superb family day out for everyone concerned.”
Both spectators and teams hail primarily - but not solely - from the likes of Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon.
The last winners of the Bed Race back in 2019 were GH Brooks, a team from the Harrogate-based builders merchant, followed by Knaresborough Striders and Ripon Runners Men.
The fastest women’s team were Ripon Runners Girls.
But this local event has a national and, even, international appeal. TV and digital coverage goes all over the world taking the name of Knaresborough to the four corners of the earth.
The event’s success since first being launched in 1966 means it has spawned imitators. There are now scores of other bed races in North America, Europe, South Africa, Asia and Australasia.
As tough as it is fun, Knaresborough Bed Race has seen it all since being launched 56 years ago in an early summer downpour.
And the Knaresborough Lions have never lost faith in the event, despite the challenges of the pandemic and lockdown.
“The Bed Race’s secret is the matching of a gruelling and very serious athletic contest with the spectacle of the teams and beds decorated in the theme of the year, parading in all their glory through the streets of the town,” said Mr Lloyd.
“Many thanks go to all the Lions involved and the Rotary Club and other volunteer groups for their support.
”Whatever happens on Saturday it will still be the same fine, funny and brilliantly inventive display of decorated beds, as well as the same fiercely competitive athletic contest around the 2.4-mile course of steep climbs and headlong descents, and finishing, of course, with a 40-yard swim through the River Nidd!”
Where and when to watch Knaresborough Bed Race
9am: Gathering of the teams’ beds in the grounds of Knaresborough Castle.
10am: Judging of the best-dressed beds in the grounds of Knaresborough Castle.
10.30am: Road closures begin in central Knaresborough and along Knaresborough Road towards Starbeck.
Noon: The opening of attractions at Conyngham Hall Fields, including amusements, fete, charity stalls, bars and food.
1pm: Parade from Castlegate through the Knaresborough streets by the Bed Race teams and their colourfully-decorated beds.
3pm: Knaresborough Bed race begins with the teams setting off at ten-second intervals.
3.15-4pm: Bed Race finishers arrive at the finishing line at Conyngham Hall by the River Nidd.
5pm: Presentation of prizes to the teams.
6pm: Road closures start to lift.
How to get to Knaresborough Bed Race
NB The best idea is to walk, take the train or park and ride it
It is expected that 20,000 to 30,000 people will come to watch this Saturday’s Knaresborough Bed Race.
Extra train and bus services are being laid on, and there is a free park-and-ride service.
Arranged by Knaresborough Lions, the Park and Ride facility runs from the Knaresborough Technology Park on Manse Lane, and from ALM on Grimbalds Crag Close.
Both services will run backwards and forwards to Chapel Street in the town centre.
Both car parks will close at 6.30 pm.
For anyone thinking of driving to the Bed Race, roads in and around Knaresborough will be closed to traffic from 10.30am until 6pm.
For more information on the Bed Race, visit www.bedrace.co.uk