Cheese-Rolling, rolling, rolling, rolling

Most people would agree that fresher’s week is one of the highlights of your student experience. You get to meet so many different people that it eventually becomes confusing. However, for most fresher’s the first two questions most commonly asked to any newfound acquaintances are “what’s your name?” swiftly followed up by a “where do you come from?”

As a University student I liked to show off my intellectual prowess by answering the initial question correctly 99% of the time, but when I responded with my second answer of “Gloucester”, an awkward silence accompanied with a bemused face arrived simultaneously. I would then retort, “It’s near Bristol” and thus peace and harmony would be restored. See, Gloucester is probably only known by some for its Rugby team and a nursery rhyme about a certain Dr. Foster.

However it also hosts an event, which has achieved recognition on an international scale. That event is Cheese-Rolling.

Yes, Cheese-Rolling. The art of rolling a piece of cheese. Cheese-Rolling began in the late 1800’s and takes place at Coopers Hill, Brockworth, Gloucester on the Spring bank holiday at the end of May.

Contestants have a daunting wait at the top of the ridiculously steep and uneven hill as a piece of cheese is rolled down a second before they can set off. The cheese is approximately 7lbs of glorious Double Gloucester, protected for the rolling by a wooden casing and is decorated with ribbons at the start of the race.

Once the cheese is released carnage ensues. Contestants chase the cheese down the hill as the cheese reaches its top speed of approximately 70mph. It is fairly hard to catch, but even harder to stay on your feet and leave the event unscathed. Teams of paramedics are on stand-by to deal with the broken ankles, dislocated shoulders and a whole host of other injuries that occur.

The event has been increasing in popularity year on year and last Monday the annual showpiece attracted a crowd of around 5,000 people. It now even has it’s own iPhone and iPod touch game called Coopers Hill, as well as appearing in episodes of ER, Gilmore Girls, ESPN’s E:60 and The Maccabees music video for ,‘Can You Give It’.

This years Cheese-Rolling title went to an American who travelled over specifically to compete in the contest. Participants come from all parts of the globe due to the quintessential ‘Britishness’ of the sport. So if you like to see people getting hurt and a sport that is a bit wacky, wonderful and steeped in British tradition and history then why not check out Cheese-Rolling. You can even have a go at it yourself if you’re feeling brave enough!

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