At the end of a long and frustrating day, some people want a chunk of cheese. Others want to go for a nice run. Others, still, choose both.
The sport of cheese rolling is pretty much exactly what its title suggests. A roll of Double Gloucester cheese, weighing around 10 pounds depending on the contest, is rolled down a hill. Participants then chase the cheese. Whoever reaches the bottom of the hill first wins the race. The theoretical goal is to catch the cheese, but its head start and ability to reach very high speeds due to the aerodynamics of wheels make this next to impossible.
The history of cheese rolling is unclear. However, the place that popularized the event is determinedly known: Cooper Hill near Gloucester, England. Here, it takes place at every Spring Bank Holiday, a day when banks close and workers are generally given a day off. Participation was originally limited to locals, but this has greatly expanded due to the sport’s increasing global popularity.
For the 25 years leading up to 2009, when the officially organized event was cancelled due to injuries that had resulted over the years as well as crowd control problems, local cheesemaker Diana Smart provided the official cheese roll. While her desire to participate was not stunted, local police threats of liability led her to end her partnership.
The event has continued unofficially since then. The passion for cheese just won’t die.
27-year-old Colorado native Kenny Rackers won the 2013 contest.
Cheese rolling has spread from its origin. Events have sprouted up elsewhere surrounding the sport. A contest is held annually in Whistler Village, Canada. Entry is free of charge. An entire festival is centered around the competition, pointing to its pop-cultural appeal.