The 26th Annual Bedzzz Race at Dow’s Lake

The Read-A-Thon is in its third year and the Kiwanis Club provides new books for libraries in various schools. So far 47 schools have been included with a total of 17,000 students. An estimated 100,000 books are to be read.

40 teams entered this year, and they came from a wide variety of organizations, including the Ottawa Police, the Fire Fighters, 5 teams from the local Algonquin College, a number of teams from local hotels such as the Lord Elgin Hotels, Les Suites and teams from other local companies. Steve mentioned that there even is a family that has entered the bed racing competition, 5 cousins whose mothers are sisters with a common grandfather. They entered for the first time last year to celebrate a family member’s 80th birthday, just something special to do….

The “Blue Man Group” Chomping at the bits…

Of course there are very specific rules for this event: the beds entered in the competition have to be no smaller than 1.8 m by 0.9 m (6 by 3 feet), and they have to have a frame, head board and foot board. The frame must be made of metal for safety reasons. Mattresses are not required, although the springs must be covered. And the bed must be on wheels, skis or skates are not acceptable.

The teams can win in one of three categories: speed, decor and fundraising. Of course everybody wins since the proceeds of this event go to a great cause. The title sponsor of the 2006 event is a company called Bedzzz, and the presenting sponsor is Allstream, a network solutions provider.

Home made cars are on display The college spirit is alive and well

The event was emceed by Max Keeping, a true Ottawa celebrity and respected community leader. Max is the evening anchor of the 6 pm Ottawa News on CTV and I had a chance to talk to him a little. Max is originally from Newfoundland and has lived in the Ottawa area for many years and is very proud to promote his chosen home town. He welcomed the large group of onlookers to the Bedzz Races by referring to Ottawa as “Every Canadian’s second home town”.

We also had a chat about Winterlude and that it is an amazing festival. Rather than allowing people to gripe about the long tough winter, it gets everybody out on the streets and on the canal to party to celebrate the great things that winter has to offer.

Even an old Dodge Charger was deboned for this purpose Ready – set – go!!!

After the introductory remarks, the races got underway, with many rounds of elimination to narrow down the field to the eventual winners. There is no doubt that some of the beds weren’t constructed for aerodynamics, as a matter of fact, some of the contraptions seemed to somewhat disintegrate out on the racetrack.

The teams made a valiant effort to push the beds down the icy raceway, and depending on the design of the wheels, some teams just flew down to the finish line, while others, particularly the ones with very small wheels, took their sweet time to reach the finish.

The action gets underway, athleticism combines with ingenuous engineering

Steerability was another issue: some of the beds had a hard time staying on track and it was very prudent for the photographers to get out of the way when these out-of-control vehicles came careening toward the finish area. Some of the racers pushing the beds lost traction and were sliding all over the frozen lake on their rear ends. At certain points I had a hard time taking pictures because I was actually laughing so hard. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I was the only reporter on skates documenting this event. But skating is part of the true Winterlude experience and I was definitely experiencing the real thing…..

Traction is not the best, the Ninja Turtles lose one of their pushers.

Well, a travel writer’s job is never over: I had another event on my schedule – the Fire and Ice Culinary demonstrations at Confederation Park. So much to my chagrin I had to leave the bed race behind and make my way back about 7 km on the Rideau Canal. I found out later that the team from Apollo Property Management had won the fundraising competition, while the International Union of Elevator Constructors – Local 96 was the fastest bed. The best decorated bed was won by the Gordon Group, with Les Suites Hotel a close second.

All in all the bed race was a great event, the teams had fun, the audience saw a great hilarious spectacle, and a good chunk of money was raised for a great cause.

Everybody is a winner….

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