Since perhaps the dawn of time (or at least the 1800s), people have gathered at Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire, England, to participate, or to watch the crazies participate in a fantastic tradition. Folks in all types of dress or undress, wrapped in bubble wrap, loincloths or knee pads depending on their level of crazy wait for the MC to say "ready, steady, go" and hurl a 7-8 pound whole Double Gloucester cheese down an amazingly steep hill. Moments later, the "contestants" hurl themselves right after it! Cooper's Hill is a 1-1 or 1-2 grade all the way from the plateau at the top to where the rugby players catch people at the bottom so they don't just keep going. Needless to say, pretty much nobody makes it down without doing a little slide on their bum, or more dramatically, bouncing head over heels all the way down. (You MUST click there for an awesome video!!) When it rains, it's slippery, but the ground is softer (and you can get a nice mud slide going!)
The winner receives their very own cheese to take home. And not just any cheese, but one hand made by Mrs. Diana Smart of Churcham, Gloucester using traditional methods and milk from her herd of Brown Swiss, Holstein and Gloucester cows! Second place gets 10 pounds sterling and third gets 5 pounds. Not a lot of a prize considering that there is almost always a separated shoulder, or some other major/minor injury! It's all about the challenge and the tradition.
A pretty great way to celebrate cheese and the crazy things people will do for it!
(And BTW - The next race is coming up in May, 2010...visit the official Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake website to make your plans! Maybe I'll see you there!)