What do you get if you cross Borat in a florescent mankini, a host of cape-wearing German superheros, a cow, a 1:1 gradient, and an 8lb Double Gloucester cheese? The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake 2009, of course – which brought huge crowds of 5,000 spectators from all over the globe to Gloucester once again this bank holiday Monday.
The perilous 2009 event, which was forced to a halt on three occasions while the ambulance carted off injured racers to the hospital, may have taken significantly longer to complete the five official downhill races this year – but the head-over-heels falls, slides, somersaults, and a fair few face-plants – gave the crowd more than enough sideline excitement to make up for the delays.
The St John Ambulance volunteers were kept busy with a host of minor sprains, scrapes, bruises and cuts – with Search and Rescue on hand to stretcher down a racer or two, as well as a spectator who fell from a tree at the top of Cooper’s Hill this year.
The antics of the fancy-dressed (and very skimpily-dressed) competitors and a mass Mexican wave whiled away the time waiting for the races to start, with the Cheese Rolling attracting more camera-wielding international film crews than ever before.
Veteran Brockworth competitor Chris Anderson raced to victory not once but twice in two of the four men’s downhill races this year – cementing his celebrity and garnering cheers of support from locals, in what he said would be his final year of racing. Scott Beaven from Wales and Josh Geitz from Australia were also both victorious, while New Zealander Michelle Kokiri took the women’s title in 2009.
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, handmade by Gloucester cheesemaker Diana Smart, 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 very few contenders manage to stay on their feet, instead tumbling head-over-heels down the hill in a desperate effort to catch the dairy prize – which travels at approximately 70 miles per hour.
While the weathermen promised it would be the hottest day of the year, and some spectators did indeed sport sunburnt noses at the end of the afternoon, the sun remained largely allusive all afternoon. But, the short showers did soften the ground for the falls, of which there were plenty, and those who were drenched in torrential rain standing on Cooper’s Hill this time last year were certainly not complaining.
Despite the scraped elbows, muddy bums and bandages, the smiles at the end of the afternoon said it all, the Cheese Rolling was a huge success in 2009. If the popularity of SoGlos.com’s videos of the event are anything to go by – having now been seen by more than 5 million people worldwide, the 2010 event is only set to attract even more ‘brave’ competitors than ever before.
Monday 25 May 2009