Sunday, 1 Oct 2023

The Eccentric Basics of Cheese-Rolling

Each year in the spring, the English region of Gloucester hosts its annual cheese-rolling event; a sport in which athletes come from far and wide to launch themselves down hills in pursuit of wheels of cheese. The event is held yearly during the Spring Bank Holiday Monday, and kicks off at 12pm on the dot.

It might sound strange, but locals swear by the entertainment factor of this eccentric race, and it is certainly one of the most unique sports to be found in the Northern hemisphere. It might not be long before cheese-rolling inspires a few online casino Singapore games too! Here is how cheese-rolling works, and more details about this kooky but brilliant sport.

How a Winner Arises

The concept of cheese-rolling is fairly self-explanatory in nature. To begin a game, a 9-pound wheel of Gloucester cheese is rolled from the top of a tall hill, and competitors are tasked with chasing it to the bottom of said hill. The first athlete to cross the finish line is dubbed the winner of the event, and gets to take home the cheese wheel as their prize.

When the sport first started out, participants were actually tasked with catching the cheese, but this proved difficult primarily because of how quickly the wheel gained momentum. After numerous injuries resulted from the original set of rules, the powers that be replaced the official cheese wheel with a foam replica in 2013 with a view to keep participating athletes safe.

When, Where, How and Why

The annual cheese-rolling contest is traditionally held on Cooper’s Hill in the Brockworth parish of Gloucester. The sport’s primary competitors are locals from the village itself, but travellers from all over the world are also welcome to take part should they wish, and no skills or training are needed in order to be accepted as a racer. A pub in the nearby village of Shurdington – The Cheese Rollers – has even been named after the event, and contestants are always welcome to indulge in a few drinks before the event there, and to celebrate after it has concluded as well.

The rules of cheese-rolling are relatively simple too. There are four downhill races, three for men and a single one for women, each allowing 14 racers to take part (although as many as 40 have raced in tandem in the past). An MC will kick off the round by yelling, “One to be ready, two to be steady, three to prepare (it is at this point that the cheese is released), and four to be off!” Competitors will then launch themselves down the hill after the cheese, and the first racer to cross the finish line is named the overall winner.

History of the World’s Cheesiest Sport

The history of cheese-rolling is largely a mystery, but English locals do have a few theories as to how the sport arose. It is estimated to have originated during the 15th century, when rolling cheese wheels was used to maintain grazing rights for livestock on the commons.

Another explanation notes that the sport is pagan in origin, and stems from a practice during which people would throw bundles of flaming brushwood down the hill to represent the New Year after the end of winter. It is this belief that also sparked the tradition of Masters of Ceremonies scattering sweets, biscuits and other confectionery at the top of the hill to praise the ‘fruits of harvest’.