, Newburyport, MA


August 1, 2013

A Bed Race rivalry and a record

Six years removed from only Bed Race appearance, Pirates of Merrimack still holds record


A challenge accepted

Schonemann and friend Paul Olson were at the Newburyport High 20-year reunion in 2006, the Friday of Yankee Homecoming, engaged in conversation with classmate Mark Doyle. Doyle, Winn’s brother-in-law, was a member of Winn’s Simply Sweet team that had won the previous day in a record time of 1:08.

“I was congratulating Mark on winning, when Paul started saying he was going to beat him next year,” Schonemann recalls. “I wanted to win it too, only because I wanted (daughters) Isabel, Emma and Adelaide to be in the parade.”

Schonemann took it as a mission and was tasked with three things over the next year: building a proper bed, assembling a team and adopting a theme. The theme was easy: The Pirates of the Caribbean series was all the rage and very popular among his daughters.

Schonemann makes his living as a chemical engineer and is more intelligent than 95 percent of the population. Building an aerodynamic, made-for-speed pirate ship with a bed by the following summer would be an afterthought. There were also pirate costumes to think about and, of course, an obligatory flag with the skull and crossbones.

Assembling a team was another story. The bickering, dissension, behind-the-back whispers came in a whirlwind. We need this guy. I want that guy. No, he’s too slow. Not athletic enough.

After quite a bit of haggling, their team was solidified: Schonemann and Olson; Chris Heline, a regular in local triathlons; Jake Vartabedian and Pat Ward, all 30-something veterans of the local basketball leagues.

In the weeks leading up to the race, Olson pulled out with an injury. Schonemann recruited Matt Langis, also among the basketball crew, who used to run a 52-second 400-meter dash at NHS.

They even endured trial runs in the empty lots of the industrial park and lengthy sprints at Fuller Field.

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