Cheese Rolling Trivia

Cheese rolling involves chasing a bounding Double Gloucester down a grassy cliff. The hill is so steep that the runners don't start the race standing; instead, they have to sit at the starting line.
  • Cooper's Hill (pop. 39) near Gloucester is the setting for the annual cheese roll.
  • The hill drops away at a near 70-degree angle, then shifts to 50 degrees, then plunges again, then levels out, then falls before abruptly flattening at the bottom.
  • The wheels of Double Gloucester hurled down the hill weigh nearly eight pounds, measuring three inches thick and nine inches in diameter. Technically, they could be classed as missiles under local bylaws.
  • By the time they hit the safety net at the bottom of the 250-yard race course, the cheese wheels are spiralling unpredictably at up to 70 miles an hour.
  • Provided runners are still on their feet when they get to the bottom, they're promptly tackled by rugby players to prevent them crashing into a fence.
  • A 27-year-old named "Digger" Gardener dashed down wearing nothing but a T-shirt and a jockstrap in 1983. He claimed the outfit "did wonders for streamlining", and so it must have done--he won first and second place.
  • To overcome their fear, most Cheese Roll runners rely on Dutch courage. Any alcohol will do, but the anaesthetic of choice tends to be scrumpy or, in a pinch, perry (hard cider made from pears).
  • No one has ever been killed at the cheese roll, though there is an apocryphal story about a runner dropping dead at the end of a race centuries ago.
  • Four adults and four children were zapped by lightning when a sudden thunderstorm interrupted the 1982 cheese roll. However, as soon as the rain cleared, the racing resumed.
  • One of the boys hit by lightning in 1982 went on to run in the race ten years later-and snap his thighbone in half, 'winning' an 18-inch pin in his leg.
  • Runners aren't the only ones at risk; bystanders have also been hurt-by out-of-control runners, but more often by bouncing cheeses.
  • The "CHEESE CHASE CHAOS" of 1990 notched up some 22 casualties-including a 59 year-old grandmother knocked out by a cheese.
  • Depending on the report, up to 37 people were injured in 1997, including seven spectators.
  • One unfortunate tripped while trying to dodge a hurtling cheese and fell 100 feet down the hill. He was rushed to hospital with head injuries.
  • One veteran winner broke his left arm that year, having already broken his right arm on the hill a few years earlier, earning him a double fracture for his Double Gloucester. The other two trophy cheeses were stolen.
  • After the event was officially banned in 1998, the organisers introduced some token safety measures. As a result, the body count fell to about a dozen casualties per year.
©J.R. Daeschner

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