The bank holiday downpours certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of the fearless Gloucester Cheese Rolling competitors in the perilous 2008 event – with head-over-heels tumbles, somersaulting, mud-sliding, and a fair few face-plants and fancy-dressed racers all giving the crowd more than enough sideline excitement to make up for the rain and howling wind.
Sopping wet spectators who travelled from across Gloucestershire – and from across the globe – braved the elements for the 2008 instalment of the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake on bank holiday Monday. With a 12 midday start, thousands were rewarded for their perseverance with a spectacular line-up of action once again this year, with the five official downhill races met with continuous cheers from the packed crowds.
Fancy dress was once again a favourite feature of the festivities – with curly-tailed pigs, a Brazilian mouse and a TV presenter in what started out as a white suit covered with cheese, all braving the 200m slope, with a 1:1 gradient in parts, in an attempt to win the coveted Double Gloucester.
Comedians Rory McGrath and Patrick McGuinness also took part in the annual event, with the They Think It’s All Over star Rory traversing much of the course on his backside only to be pounced upon by volunteers from a local rugby club when he eventually crossed the finish line smiling.
Prolific Brockworth competitor Chris Anderson raced to victory once again in the first men’s race in 2008. Unconscious after crossing the finishing line, the Gloucester Cheese Rolling veteran was stretchered off the course by St John Ambulance – followed by a friend wielding his first prize cheese – he was reportedly completely fine afterwards, however.
For the uninitiated, dating back to at least the 1800s, the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake is an annual Gloucestershire event which involves hordes of fearless competitors chasing a weighty 8lb Double Gloucester cheese down a death-defyingly-steep hill.
The slope on Cooper’s Hill in Gloucester, the eponymous setting for the world-famous event, is in fact so steep that few contenders manage to even stay on their feet, instead tumbling head-over-heels down the hill in a desperate effort to catch the dairy prize – while the rain and resultant streams of mud in 2008 made standing on two feet difficult even for the spectators, it did in fact make for a safer event thanks to softer landings appreciated by all of the competitors.
While ‘never again’ was a phrase muttered by many a cheese rolling watcher walking back to their cars, while caked in mud and dripping wet, whatever Mother Nature throws at us, I’m sure we’ll see the same – well, sort of, smiling – faces for Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling 2009!
Monday 26 May 2008