The Unusual Sport of Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire, England

This sport spans back two hundred years or maybe even thousands of years ago

Perhaps it was a pagan healing ritual, ancient fertility rite, or a celebration of the return of spring. There are many theories surrounding the ancient civilizations that inhabited the area that may have given birth to the unusual event of cheese rolling. At any rate, cheese rolling is a sport that takes place on Coopers Hill, Gloucestershire, England, once and a year on the last Monday of May coinciding with the Bank Holiday.

Men and women alike chase after a seven pound Double Gloucester cheese roll that speeds down Cooper’s Hill at a rate of 100 km/hr (60 m/hr)! Spectators numbering in the thousands plus the media, watch as these fearless athletes risk serious injury to try and capture the cheese. The course is 200 yards on a hill’s whose gradient ranges from 1 in 2 for part of the course to 1 in 1 on uneven turf.

Entry is free and there are 15 people to participate in each run

The number of participants has been reduced from past events due to limited paramedic personnel available to attend in case (in all likelihood) of injuries. There are 3 downhill races for men, 1 for women. There are also 3 uphill races that are for boys and girls under 12 and one that is open to all comers. The first race begins at noon. Informing the Master of Ceremonies (the official in white overall and top hat) of your intention to run in the sport is how many enter. Just getting there early enough is the trick, because it is a sought after event with no preregistration requirements.

Quality footwear and appropriate clothing is all you need to get you through to the end

The traction needed to help with sure footing and the clothing covering will help to minimize, to some extent, injuries and bruising. At the bottom of the hill, there are men dressed in yellow vests. Their job is to help slow down racers so that they do not run into the buildings at the bottom.

The winner of the race wins the cheese, second place receives 10£, and third place receives 5£. In the children’s race, the winner again receives the cheese, while both second and third receives 5£. There are sites that are dedicated to this weird yet locally loved event. Ranging from strategies, possible historical background, diaries from past participants, to video footage of the most recent event held May 25, 2009. Publications in paperback and e-book format are available for purchase. This event celebrates tradition and the adventuresome spirit, and is gaining in popularity with each passing year.