Saturday 28 May, 2016

On Your Marks, Get Set… Roll!

DISCLAIMER: EF does not encourage, under any circumstance (even if that circumstance is a wheel of cheese) hurling your body down a hill for sport. Should you decide to do so we will watch and probably be entertained, but we do not, under any circumstance encourage this act.

Welcome to Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling, where on Monday, May, 31st, competitors will chase an 8 lb. wheel of cheese down a 295 foot hill. The brave souls who willingly participate gracefully combine running, rolling and flailing in hopes of being the first to reach the bottom. If you think this seems dangerous, that’s because it is. Competitors often walk (or limp) away with a medley of battle scars – from scratches and sprains, to bruises and broken bones.

At this point you’re probably wondering “why?” What could possibly motivate someone to partake in an event so ludicrous, so outlandish, so downright silly? The answer can be summed up in three words: the big cheese. Literally, the winner goes home with the massive wheel of cheese they chased down the hill. Figuratively, and perhaps more importantly, the winner is granted “big cheese” status and the bragging rights to go with.

Coopers hill Cheese Rolling pic

The origins of Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling date all the way back to the 1800’s. What was once a small, intimate gathering for the townspeople of Brockworth, England, is now an internationally recognized affair, attracting spectators and competitors from around the world. But despite the event’s growing popularity, Cooper’s Hill is still fueled with hometown legends. Chris Anderson, a Brockworth native and now local celebrity, has won a grand total of 15 cheeses over the past 11 years.

“Registering” to compete is about as informal as possible – you show up and you hop on the starting line– anyone is welcome to join in. There are different divisions for men, women, and even children, with 20-40 runners in each race. Thousands will gather at Cooper’s Hill for this year’s Cheese Rolling. Some will run, some will watch, but everyone will partake in a tradition unlike any other!

Discover the British Isles on and educational tour to Dublin and London! 

Photo Credit: Michael Warren