For many, the hardest part of running a race or marathon is that first step: getting out of bed. On Friday, six contestants got to experience the thrill of crossing a finish line and breaking yellow tape without standing up, at the Tree of Friends Foundation's inaugural Bed Derby.
The event featured six competing teams in elaborately decorated beds, with themes ranging from a "Star Wars"-inspired spaceship, to a rolling cowboy vehicle, to the bed of Max, the lead character of "Where the Wild Things Are." Each team went head-to-head in a series of three heats, with the victorious teams facing off in a triple-threat final round.
Each vehicle was pushed by a team of four racers, with the fifth team member sitting snug in their bed. Teams said the creation and decoration process varied per bed, with some teams spending a few days on the creation and others dedicating weeks to the final project.
Members of the Carroll County Public Library assembled the "Where the Wild Things Are" bed over the course of a week, according to Kati Hoffman. She said they picked the book as their theme because of the role served by the bed that Max uses to travel to the land of the wild things, and because it's consistently one of the most popular children's books.
Hoffman said they started with a bare bed frame that they then papered with book pages, feathers and other wild design elements. To give the bed it's go-power, they attached wheels from a library cart.
The races were held as a fundraiser for Tree of Friends Foundation, a Carroll County nonprofit designed to help those in the community who require a little additional assistance. According to Derby organizational team member Tony Christiani, the idea for the race came from a need the group saw in the community.
"We have a lot of people who work in the school system who let us know about a number of students and kids in the community who don't have beds to sleep in," Christiani said. "From there, we started brainstorming on how to buy beds for these kids."
With each team registering for the race for $250, as well as an extra $150 made at the event's 50/50 raffle, the organization was able to raise $1,650 for Carroll children without a bed to sleep in.
Christiani said they had initially hoped as many as 20 teams would attend the event, but he was happy with the six that were able to show. He said they are planning on bringing the event back again next year with what he hopes is a greater number of participants.
Rick Chmar and his team driving Bed to the Bone are already preparing for next year's race. Chmar helped construct a Harley Davidson-themed racing bed, complete with bicycle tires, and a decorative handle-bar and front fifth wheel. During the race, Bed to the Bone had some trouble as the wheels started pointing in different directions and the entire bed went off-track.
"We had some fabrication issues. There was a lack of knowledge in the fabrication area. I've never done anything like this before," Chmar said. "Now I know what I did wrong. We didn't have enough struts. Next year we'll be back, bigger, badder and better."
The Lineboro 4-H Club ended up taking home the prize for fastest bed after winning the final race. According to team member Pat Becker, the bed seemed particularly heavy, making the race more difficult than expected. He said they're already brainstorming ideas for new equipment and design changes to help them retain the title next year.
At the end of the event, prizes were awarded for wackiest bed, the "Where the Wild Things Are" team; best theme, "The Force Awakens"; most likely to break down, Bed to the Bone; and an audience award that went to the cowboy car.