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There’s No Sleeping in Bed Racing

Updated on October 19, 2011

Suppose you want to participate in an extreme sport, but want to do it while lying on your back. Then bed racing may be your sport. Bed racing requires a decorated bed on wheels, runners to push the bed, and the person in the bed. Sometimes the person in the bed calls themselves the driver. But they are really just a passenger whose only job is to hold on as tightly as they can.

The general idea behind this sport is to have the runners push the bed as fast as they can to a finish line. The team that gets its bed and passenger to the finish line first wins.

But bed racing rules are flexible around the world as you will read below.


Bed Racing in the United Kingdom

The first bed races were in 1965 in Knaresborough, England. And they’ve been holding them there every year since. But there are strict rules. You can actually read them at this link.

In Knaresborough, a team is composed of the person in the bed and 6 runners. Each team provides its own bed which has to have four wheels and be decorated based on the theme for that year. An award is given to the best dressed bed.

The entire race is 3 km (about 1 mile) long. But unlike races in other places, this race goes through town including up-hill climbs, downhill sprints, and the big challenge – crossing a river. Which means the bed also has to be able to float.

Knaresborough Bed Race 2011

If you wonder how that’s possible, watch this video.

In the end, a team has to cross the finish line without the passenger drowning, sinking, or bouncing off. And the bed can’t collapse either.

Awards are given to the fastest team, the fastest female team, the fastest mixed team, the most entertaining team, and so on. Winning teams finish in about 15 minutes. And a jolly time is had by all!

Bed Racing Around the World

Bed racing has been adapted to other countries of the world, including the U.S., Canada, and Thailand.

Since these are usually events to raise money for charity, the rules are a little looser. Only 4 people usually push the bed, which still has to be decorated and on wheels.

Instead of racing through town and across a river, the race is one bed racing a specified distance on a flat street or football field. Sometimes there are two beds, racing each other side by side. The team with the fastest time is declared the winner. The winning team gets a prize, such as a bedpan, while the charity gets some money. Everybody’s happy!

Here’s a video of an annual race held in Coconut Beach, Florida.

And here’s the video of the race held in Pattya, Thailand.

Preparing for a Bed Race

The real athletes in bed racing are the runners. So how does a runner prepare? Well, this question was answered by an article in The Shorthorn, The University of Texas at Arlington student newspaper.

Basically, preparation includes lunges and squats to strengthen your legs. Then, before the race, you do a 10 minute warmup consisting of jogging and jumping jacks.

And here's the bed race at the U of T at Arlington.

If you want to get into this extreme sport, read the article to prepare. Unless you’re going to be the passenger. Then you can just lay on the bed and try to get some rest.

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