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Ladies and Gentlemen, start your…beds?

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For the most exhausting fun you can have with a ‘bed’ in public and not be arrested, welcome to The Great Auckland Bed Race, with its start and finish line at The Trusts Arena and course round nearby Henderson streets. The aim is to raise money for Hospices throughout Auckland and in particular for the West Auckland Hospice, which is building its first in-patient facility.

The inaugural race happens on 26th May and if you haven’t yet entered, it may almost be too late because it’s not just a matter of entering – you also have to “make your own bed” – which is not quite as simple as what your mother taught you. With this, you literally have to build a racing bed.

However, plans are provided by the organisers which makes it just a little easier. However, if you are too late – or aren’t the bed-racing type – you can at least turn out on the day to cheer the contestants on and show support for the West Auckland Hospice, which is a very worthwhile West Auckland facility and one The Trusts are privileged to support.

The bed race features specially-built wheeled vehicles that have some vague similarity to a bed. A team of six runnerpushers propel at race-pace around a 2.7 km course of local streets, with a seventh team member riding “in bed”. An eighth has the twin responsibilities of shaking the bucket for the team’s chosen hospice and making sure the team doesn’t break any rules – or at least doesn’t get caught.

The idea is being brought to West Auckland by new migrant Samantha Jung-Fielding, who caught an entirely new species of bed-bug – the bed-racing bug – from a long standing tradition in Knaresborough, near her former home in Yorkshire, in the UK.

The New Zealand event is modelled directly on the original that has been organised by the Knaresborough Lions since 1966. It includes having a theme. Bed racing experience however, is non-essential.

The organisers have chosen the theme of “Bedtime Stories”, with teams expected to decorate their beds with this in mind.

“That should bring a few Scarface Claws, Wild Things, Cinderellas and Little Red Riding Hoods out of the woods.There will be plenty of trophies to be won on the day, including coveted prizes for best costumes and best-dressed bed,” she says.

The beds are built to very strict specifications for health and safety reasons and also to enable them to negotiate a very tight track. They consist of a frame that supports a seat for the rider, and six handles at about chest height, for the pushers.

The enthusiastic Samantha Jung-Fielding has high hopes for the future of the Auckland event. Knaresborough, she says, started with 4 beds that first year. Last year they had 90 teams and raised $200,000 for charity, which is remarkable from a market town of not quite 15,000 people.

“We are well ahead of Knaresborough for our first year,” Samantha said after the entries had been open only a short time. She also praised Auckland Council and particularly the West Auckland events team, for their support and efficiency in getting the various necessary approvals processed quickly.