The ‘heroes of Knaresborough’ are set to host the return of the town’s Great Bed Race, raising thousands in aid of charitable causes across the county.
Knaresborough Bed Race: Everything you need to know about this year's big event
As residents and organisers prepare for the big day on Saturday (June 9) the Knaresborough Lions and long-standing racers have paid tribute to efforts in the town that make the race possible.
Thousands of people put themselves forward, says Nigel Perry of the Lions, who believes it is major part of what makes the day stand out from others across the country.
He said: “In many ways the town is the real hero of the race. We draw people in all year round with what we can offer, but thousands of residents here get involved every time the race comes around. More than 600 people are running on the day, along with their passengers, while there are so many people doings things like putting together the decorations.
“This doesn’t even take into account those involved in the parade and marching bands, while cafes and businesses in the town employ extra staff because of the numbers of people who come for the day.
“I’d say indirectly and directly around 3,000 pull together to help make it possible, and that is something.”
He added: “All of this doesn’t take someone making a speech to rouse people into preparing for the day, they just think it is time to start getting ready for the bed race. I think if something somehow happened to the Lions I wouldn’t be surprised of people continued to make sure it was still organised.
“For a lot of people it is a focal point for how they look after themselves, running throughout the year in preparation.”
In total 90 teams will be taking part in the 53rd run of the race, which starts at 3pm from Conyngham Hall.
Brothers Laurence and Steven Soper have been taking part in the race for over 25 years, as part of team Guardian Alarms.
Originally starting out aged 16 Laurence, now 44, says that despite seeing handles break off and wheels coming loose over the years he still looks forward to the race every year - even setting the team’s goal of hitting a 15 minute target.
He said: “The course has changed a lot over the years, it used to have you going down the cobbles past Carriages and the railway station. It is still just as good but it is definitely a runners game now.
“Getting up the hill is definitely difficult but the sprint down the high street is the hardest part as you go along with the bed. I think if I let go of the bed I would be going straight down.”
“The training is hard work, its a mental thing a lot of the time and you are pushing yourself, but its such a good day every time. After you have done you are already thinking about next year.
“With the team as well there is such a good atmosphere with the camaraderie, and we are lucky that our sponsor takes us out and helps us to have a bit of an after party.”
Usually helping to lead the parade the team will be out collecting for Saint Michael’s Hospice on the day. Following this year’s theme of ‘A Night at the Theatre’, the team will be dressed in costumes based on the Phantom of the Opera.
Helping organise the race since 2004, Mr Perry pointed out some of the highlights for visitors on the day.
He said: “I’d say make sure you get to the Castle to see the teams getting ready, see the parade through town and get to Conygham Hall for the race itself. This will be shown on the big screen which will be set up on the day. It is a full day of entertainment.”