Knaresborough Lions, organisers of the Great Knaresborough Bed Race, have been forced to cancel the 2021 event due to the uncertainty over the Covid pandemic and lockdown rules. The Club promises that the event is closest to its heart and a return in 2022 is promised.
"We have not - and will not - give up on Bed Race and regard it as our special duty to bring it back to life as soon as conditions allow," said organising chairman Lion Kevin Lloyd. "The people of Knaresborough won't give it up and neither will we."
The decision, though, has been forced by the murk that surrounds the pandemic and specifically the gathering of beds and runners, and the large numbers of people who will turn up to watch. "It's not like a sports stadium," said Kevin.
"The event takes in the whole of the town, from parkland at Conyngham, to the Nidd Gorge, the town centre, cobbled streets, bridges and the river itself, which has to be swum by the teams and their beds. There's no way the town can be isolated.
"We have been in close contact with the authorities, police, our suppliers and other services. Currently, emergency services and first aiders on whom the event relies are wholly focused on the pandemic, and rightly so. There is no sign of when this might change.
"The event takes several months to organise. We have estimated this as four months as a minimum, so we have had to take this decision now before commitments are made," he added.
"We are a volunteer-run charity and stage the event to raise funds for charities and good causes, most which are local. There is no way we can start incurring costs if in the end we face losses if the event has to be called off. This has to be done now."
It is a shame and will hit the Lions Club for the second year. The Lions exist to raise money for mainly local charities and face a second year of frustration. The Club hopes still to organise some online events for what would have been Bed Race day, 12 June, and its annual Beer Festival in August is still on the agenda for now.
Bed Race is a massive undertaking for a small town like Knaresborough. In normal times there are over 300 volunteers organising the event, 630 runners and bed riders, hundreds more taking part in the parades and manning charity stalls. Then there are the 30,000 people – and more - who come to watch. It is one of the largest and most popular events held on the public roads in the country.
Stay tuned - the Great Knaresborough Bed Race will be back.