Location: Cooper's Hill near Brockworth, is four miles southeast of Gloucester
Event: Gloucester Cheese Run
The distance from Start to Finish is approximately 90 metres. Described as a hill, the term is loosely used. The better description is a cliff with the odd protruding clump of dirt and grass that gives the illusion of a slope.
We make the three hour journey down from Leeds and join the procession of bodies making the long hike through the fields and up the hill. A treacherous path is cut through the fields filled with knee high wild buttercups; lashing at bear legs... wire fences are tamed as the masses march on (exception being the by the women in mini skirts) ... nothing will stand in the way of the desire to reach the summit in time for the 12.00 first race! My Jandel tread is tested, as I lump my way up the vertical slope... grimacing as I pass the poor soles who’s Jandels have failed them and they slip back down the muddy embankments, arms flailing wildly. Mine stand me in good steed... no slippage at all!
The bottom of Coopers’s hill is a heaving mass of damp sweaty bodies, jostling to get a view, with many hundreds more, fighting through to get up Cooper, to stand in line awaiting the chance to fling themselves down in pursuit of the cheese!
Luke disappears... joining the pilgrimage up Cooper! The wait for his demise begins...
Tradition has it that the event is at least 200 years old, but in true Pom form as with their weird and wonderful traditions (others include nettle eating, and wearing hardly any clothes in freezing temperatures!) They really don’t have any idea why they do it. Like the dog that continues to chew the shoe... they just do!
Our struggle up the cliff is rewarded... soon a cylindrical block of Double Gloucester cheese is flung down the hill. The cheese is given a one second head start, and considering it reaches speeds of up to 112km/h seems hardly fair! Then the beasts are released! Much like the Spanish let bulls run madly down the streets once a year, the Poms let the crazed fling themselves down the ‘hill’ in hot pursuit of the rolling cheese!
Many an attempt is made to stay on feet as the contestants bolt, summersault, and contort down the hill. Gravity has the final say... and for those who by some miracle have managed to get back to their feet before the bottom, are faced with the local rugby team ready to tackle them at full force... (in order to stop them bottling it into the fence of course, not as practise for the up and coming season... at least that’s what the rumours). It looked to me that the better option was to surrender to the ‘hill’, than face the boys at the bottom!
Four hours later and many an ambulance less (probably not the best time), Luke’s body makes it to the bottom of the hill. However by this time we had seen enough broken bones, got board of waiting and were at the pub ‘The Cheese Rollers’, three miles down at the bottom of the hill enjoying the pints out of plastic glasses.
As he limps towards us from the distance, and the last ambulance screeches off, sirens blazing... this marked the end of our day at the Gloucester Cheese roll 2009.