The Sporting Bazaar – Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Competition

On a hillside near the edge of the Cotswolds, competitors race down 90 yards of steep decline, chasing a delicious wheel of Double Gloucester cheese. This is one of the world’s most absurd displays of sport, and perhaps one of the most dangerous as well. This British springtime passion is notoriously precarious, causing many broken bones. The racers do not so much run down the hill as they do flip, somersault, and tumble across the racing plane, arms outstretched reaching for a fleeting disc of cheese. At the bottom of the hill, human-wranglers attempt to soften the landing of the racing lunatics by catching them. The event is a spectacle. Enthralled spectators travel far and wide to view the rough and tumble start to finish.Rumors abound as to the origins of the strange competition. Some say that it began as a pagan ritual. Others persist that the event has its origins in Roman Times. I do not know the truth about the birthplace of this oddball event, but must say that this festival of the absurd is a sight to behold.

The event takes place annually on the “Late Spring Break Holiday Monday” (last Monday in May) in Gloucester, England. While entrant safety is an issue, the “official” competition was actually canceled last year due to popularity, not injury concerns. The cancellation did little to stop the cheese from rolling as loyal fans and competitors held an “unofficial” event on the last Monday of May. This year’s event has yet to be canceled or announced, but will likely go on, as it has for many many years. This website is a pretty exhaustive resource for all your cheese wheel racing inquiries. To reach the event, travel to Gloucester by train from London.

flickr image via Hauggen

Funny Cars: Transportation for your Next Trip?

Watching people run after cheese in Justin’s post Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake reminded me of the power tool drag racing post I wrote a little while back. It’s the zanyiness of these activities that attracts me. This video is of the Funny Car division at the Power Tool Drag races recently held in Phoenix, Arizona. The ambiance is captured through the announcer’s voice, as well as the black and white checkered flags. You’ll notice that mufflers aren’t part of the car designs. Some of these contraptions remind me of something you’d see in a Monty Python sketch.

Videos of Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake

The 2007 Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling race recently took place, and has a good recap on the event. The race is named after Cooper’s Hill near Cheltenham and Gloucester in the Cotswolds region of England, and the object is to chase a wheel of Double Gloucester cheese down the very steep hill. Many are injured — see for yourself. [via]

Here’s the uphill race