Chase some cheese: Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling, Gloucestershire England

I spent a lot of time this past summer watching the London 2012 Olympics on TV. And while England put on a good show, there’s one sport I was disappointed didn’t get any coverage at all. A sport from their own backyard no less: Cheese-rolling.

As you probably gathered from the video, the rules of the race are pretty straight-forward. A wheel of cheese (typically a 9-12 pound round of Double Gloucester cheese) is rolled down Cooper’s Hill. Competitors then “chase” after it down the steep slope. Given the speed and one-second head start the cheese gets, nobody actually catches it and the first one to cross the finish line wins the race (and the cheese).

Not surprising, injuries are pretty common at the annual event. According to Wikipedia, “Due to the steepness and uneven surface of the hill there are usually a number of injuries, ranging from sprained ankles to broken bones and concussion… A number of ambulance vehicles attend the event, since there is invariably at least one, and often several injuries requiring hospital treatment.”

A race at The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake on 29th May 2006. Photo by Dave Farrance

But competitors aren’t the only ones getting injured in this bizarre tradition. The wheel of cheese itself, which can get up to speeds of over 100 km/hour as it careens down the hill, has been known to do some damage of its own. In 1998 for example, a cameraman was knocked down and injured by some flying cheese.

The Cheese-Rolling Race happens each year in May. You can learn more about the event on the Cheese-Rolling in Gloucestershire website. Cheese-Rolling races have started to spring up in other parts of the world as word spreads of its awesomeness. I for one think I need to take a trip out west to British Columbia for the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival.

What unusual competitions have you watched or been part of?

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Josh is the creative force behind Badge of Awesome, where he noodles and doodles about life and the lessons learned from it. He's the author of Simply Blunderful and creator of The Overcoming Obstacles Toolkit.

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