Best of the Day: Newburyport Bed Race – July 30, 2015

Don’t sleep on this strange sporting event, in which teams race tricked-out ‘beds’ through the streets of Newburyport.

Welcome to Best of the Day, our daily recommendation for what to check out around town. If you do one thing in Boston today, consider this.

Sure, Gloucester may have their annual Greasy Pole contest, but they’re not the only North Shore hamlet offering surreal sports this summer. Over in Newburyport, tonight marks the 2015 installment of their annual Bed Race, a quarter-mile road race down Federal Street in which teams of up to five people haul beds—or rather, wheeled carts that retain some semblance of a bed, while also being decked out to look like boats, race cars, fire trucks, or even the balloon-festooned house from Up. Put on by the Newburyport Lions Club, the race occurs smack-dab in the middle of Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming festivities (though it’s not officially part of them).

While, as WBUR’s Greg Cook reported last year, “the origins of Newburyport’s Bed Race are shrouded in mystery,” possibly starting in the ’80s, bed races are not unique to Massachusetts. Writes Cook:

Bed races have been known to occur from San Francisco and Ogunquit, Maine, to Pattaya, Thailand, and Kogarah, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. The, ahem, sport seems relatively popular in Florida and Indiana, where a number of communities host competitions. One of the oldest continuing races is the Great Knaresborough Bed Race in Britain, which was founded in 1966, and is proudly described as “part fancy dress pageant and part grueling time trial over a 2.4-mile course, ending with a swim through the icy waters of the River Nidd.”

So eat your heart out, Comic Con. Anyone can slap together a Game of Thrones costume. But an entire road-worthy Game of Thrones bedroom set? Now there’s a challenge.

Race starts at 6 p.m., Federal St., Newburyport. Get full race info via the Newburyport Lions Club.