Run, run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gloucester Cheese man!
By Carl Perks
On the steep hills of Gloucester, a small town in England, there will be no cheering to be heard on the last day of May. There will be no obnoxiously large television screens in its town center, ambulances shall be kept at bay, tourism will be at a loss and alcohol consumption will be minimal.
Indeed my friends, on this year’s Spring Bank Holiday there will be no group of about 20 middle-aged men skidding down a cliff in pursuit of a rather large piece of cheese, just to be grated off the bottom of the hill and sent off to the hospital, for, this year, in Gloucester, there will be no Cheese Rolling.
Indeed, Cheese Rolling (also referred to as Cheese Chasing) is as simple a sport as you can get. A Double Gloucester cheese is tossed down an alarmingly steep slope as contestants perilously run after it, shattering bones and self-confidence.
Though in theory the goal of the sport is to be the first to catch the cheese, statistical evidence along with the consideration that the cheese has about a one second head start and can reach up to 112km/h in speed, have brought officials to encourage simply outrunning ones competitors. In recent years, the first to get to the bottom of the hill wins the cheese.
The event is generally held once a year, on the Spring Bank Holiday (An excuse for a day off in the U.K.), on Cooper’s Hill, within close proximity to Gloucester. Documentation is scarce but historians believe the event to have taken place every year for at least 200 years.
The quandary lies in this year’s event. For the first time, the annual Cheese Rolling is cancelled with no postpone date. Contrary to most events’ reason for offsetting a date, this annulation is due to over popularity instead of apathy. Gloucester can only hold up to 5000 people whereas last year’s Cheese Rolling attracted 15,000 viewers.
The sport’s officials recently declared: ‘‘Over the years the historic Cheese Rolling on Cooper’s Hill has gone from strength to strength and last year’s event attracted unprecedented numbers of people – something we never expected and were not prepared for. We have taken the difficult decision to postpone this year’s event so we can make some changes and improvements to the programme.”
To quench our thirst for the declivitous pursuit of dairy products, Apple has released a new app that simulates the sport, rolling cheese and all. You can find it under the name of Cooper’s Hill. If still unsatisfied, one could log on to the online virtual pet game Neopets, where Cheese Chasing is one of the listed simulated activities.
You may know the sport from the 14th season of ER, the television series, where a group of cheese chasers with heavily inaccurate accents are scolded on morality by Morris, the delinquent of the doctors.