Daredevils defy weather for annual cheese rolling races

Daredevils have thrown themselves down a steep hill in the annual death-defying cheese rolling race in Gloucestershire.

Brave competitors sprinted, tripped and tumbled down Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth to try and win the 8lb double Gloucester.

The recent wet weather had made the racetrack soft, slippery and very muddy for the competitors who were cheered on by thousands of spectators.

The winner of the first men’s downhill race was German Tom Kopke, 22, from Munich.

Participants risk life and limb as they race down the very steep Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire after an 8lb Double Gloucester cheese (Jacob King/PA)
Participants risk life and limb as they race down Cooper’s Hill after an 8lb double Gloucester cheese (Jacob King/PA)

“I am absolutely buzzing, it was an amazing experience. The unfortunate thing is I can’t really remember anything about it,” Mr Kopke, who runs his own YouTube channel, said.

“I just started and went for the bottom, and that was it. Everyone said rolling is the best strategy but I just football slid downhill, just sliding, and get back on your feet as quickly as possible.

“I love this event and it’s just crazy. The day before I went cliff diving and I am all for these crazy events.

“I promised my grandma I am going to give it to her, so she is going to get the cheese.”

Rebel cheese rollers have been staging their own unofficial event after health and safety fears caused the official competition to be cancelled in 2010.

The cheese is chased 200 yards down the 1:2 gradient Cooper’s Hill at Brockworth.

Tom Kopke celebrates winning the 1st men's downhill race (Jacob King/PA)
Tom Kopke celebrates winning the 1st men’s downhill race (Jacob King/PA)

After a year’s hiatus, when police warned against the use of a real cheese, the imitation lightweight foam cheese was replaced with the genuine article.

Long-time cheese-maker Rod Smart, who have produced cheese for the chase for more than 25 years, once again provided the wheels for this year’s event.

Four cheeses weighing about 3kg each and three smaller ones, weighing about 1.5kg, are used.

The unusual event has been celebrated for centuries and is thought to have its roots in a heathen festival to celebrate the return of spring.

The official event was cancelled after more than 15,000 people turned up as spectators to watch the 2009 competition.

Since then, it has been held unofficially with the police keeping a watchful eye.

Australian Dylan Twiss won the second men's race (Jacob King/PA)
Australian Dylan Twiss won the second men’s race (Jacob King/PA)

Local roads have been closed up to two-and-a-half miles around the slope.

Some competitors travelled from across the world to take part in the series of madcap races, which attracted TV crews from around the world.

The second men’s race was won by Dylan Twiss, 25, from Perth, Australia, who said afterwards: “I am slightly surprised.

“I said I was going to win it and I managed to do it. I wasn’t quite sure if I had it or not and I knew there were a lot of people coming in pretty fast.

“I might eat the cheese at some stage – I haven’t quite decided yet.”

The women’s race was won by Abby Lampe, 23, from North Carolina, US, who picked up a double Gloucester for the second time having first won in 2022.

American Abby Lampe bounced and tumbled her way to winning the women's race - a title she first won in 2022 (Jacob King/PA)
American Abby Lampe bounced and tumbled her way to winning the women’s race – a title she first won in 2022 (Jacob King/PA)

“I just remember rolling down and my face getting beat up again,” she said.

“I was thinking to myself there was only going to be a few seconds and I would get to the bottom at some point and it will be over.

“I found about cheese rolling years ago on the internet and I wanted to defend my title.

“I don’t know how it looks – only how it feels – but I think I just tumbled down.

“I came out unscathed. My face is a little dirty but that’s about it. I’m going to ship the cheese back home to North Carolina.”

The final men’s downhill race was won by Josh Shepherd, from Gloucester, who has previously won before.