Say cheeeese…or should that be Käse?: German man wins first prize in Gloucestershire’s


A gorilla lost his head, an American YouTuber risked death and a German man tumbled his way to victory today – in what could only be Gloucestershire’s historic annual cheese-rolling event.

Hundreds of daredevil competitors today threw themselves into the iconic race on Cooper’s Hill.

The men’s race was won by Tom Kopke from Germany who told the BBC he was ‘buzzing’ and would be back next year to defend his title.

Mr Kopke, who runs his own YouTube channel, said: ‘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.’

American YouTuber and rapper Speedy, or IShowSpeed, came fourth in this year’s cheese-rolling event but injured himself on the way down.

He vowed to try again at next year’s event, proclaiming he ‘knows how to win now’.

Josh Shepherd from Brockworth won the third men’s race of the day and told the BBC he had to ‘bring it home for Brockworth’.

Competitor Ollie, who was dressed in a gorilla costume, lost his head and feet on the way down and jokingly compared the challenge to yoga.

There was a false start to the women’s race at 1pm, where participants started to tumble down the hill, but no cheese had been rolled.

But after a slight hiccup, the women’s race was won by Abby Lampe from North Carolina who took home the trophy for the second time after her win back in 2022. 

Hundreds of daredevil competitors through themselves into a cheese-rolling race

Hundreds of daredevil competitors through themselves into a cheese-rolling race 

Two competitors come tumbling down the hill during the event near Brockworth, Gloucester

Two competitors come tumbling down the hill during the event near Brockworth, Gloucester

A man chases cheese during the contest, which was won by Tom Kopke from Germany

A man chases cheese during the contest, which was won by Tom Kopke from Germany

Participants take part in the annual cheese-rolling at Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire today

Participants take part in the annual cheese-rolling at Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire today

Participants in the women's cheese-rolling race today as they tumble down the hill

Participants in the women’s cheese-rolling race today as they tumble down the hill 

The Gloucester event attracts people from around the globe to roll down the steep Coopers Hill

The Gloucester event attracts people from around the globe to roll down the steep Coopers Hill

Participants chase a 7lb Double Gloucester cheese down the hill. The women's race had a false start after people started rolling before the cheese

Participants chase a 7lb Double Gloucester cheese down the hill. The women’s race had a false start after people started rolling before the cheese

Tom Kopke, from Munich, winner of the first race, lifts a Double Gloucester cheese after taking part in the annual cheese-rolling at Cooper's Hill in Brockworth

Tom Kopke, from Munich, winner of the first race, lifts a Double Gloucester cheese after taking part in the annual cheese-rolling at Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth

Abby Lampe, winner of the women's annual Cooper's Hill cheese-rolling competition (pictured) - she won previously in 2022

Abby Lampe, winner of the women’s annual Cooper’s Hill cheese-rolling competition (pictured) – she won previously in 2022

Dylan Twiss, from Perth Australia, celebrates after winning race two, at the annual cheese rolling at Cooper's Hill

Dylan Twiss, from Perth Australia, celebrates after winning race two, at the annual cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill

American YouTuber and rapper, Darren Watkins Jr, known online as IShowSpeed or Speed, at the annual cheese rolling at Cooper's Hill in Brockworth

American YouTuber and rapper, Darren Watkins Jr, known online as IShowSpeed or Speed, at the annual cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth

People compete in the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition today

People compete in the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling competition today

The rapper came fourth in this year's event and told the BBC he 'knows how to win now'

The rapper came fourth in this year’s event and told the BBC he ‘knows how to win now’ 

The winner of the first men's race today, Tom Kopke from Germany, can be seen wearing hi-vis in the front of the pack

The winner of the first men’s race today, Tom Kopke from Germany, can be seen wearing hi-vis in the front of the pack

Participants tumble down Cooper's Hill this morning as they take part in the annual cheese-rolling event despite earlier safety warnings by police

Participants tumble down Cooper’s Hill this morning as they take part in the annual cheese-rolling event despite earlier safety warnings by police 

Participants threw themselves into the thick of things in today's opening race

Participants threw themselves into the thick of things in today’s opening race

Men tumble and fall down Cooper's Hill during today's first contest won by Tom Kopke

Men tumble and fall down Cooper’s Hill during today’s first contest won by Tom Kopke

Mud flies everywhere as groups of people hurtle themselves down the hill

Mud flies everywhere as groups of people hurtle themselves down the hill 

People compete in the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition in Brockworth

People compete in the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling competition in Brockworth

People at the top of the hill ready to roll down it after wheels of cheese in the quirky competition

People at the top of the hill ready to roll down it after wheels of cheese in the quirky competition

One cheese roller dressed as a gorilla lost his head as he took the tumble down the hill

One cheese roller dressed as a gorilla lost his head as he took the tumble down the hill

The event sees competitors chase a 3kg Double Gloucester cheese rolling down the steep 180m hill, tripping and tumbling as they go.

Hundreds of people gather to speculate every year, with the event dating back to the 1800s. 

The steep gradient means the event is not for the faint-hearted and the cheese can reach speeds of up to 70mph, with the first runner to catch it crowned the winner.

Concerns were raised by Tewkesbury Borough Safety Advisory Group who said last year’s event put a strain on emergency services after a number of people suffered injuries.

Organisers cleared the hill for stones, rocks, brambles and other potential hazards for today’s event but couldn’t guarantee they had cleared everything. 

Participants do not need to register online or pay a huge entrance fee to take part.

Assistant Chief Constable Arman Mathieson from Gloucestershire Police said the event is a ‘unique tradition and we have no desire to stop it’.

But police had a duty to tell the public that the council’s safety group had declared it unsafe. 

‘Those intending to go should consider the risk they might be putting themselves at’ he said. 

The Safety Advisory Group said it has made ‘numerous attempts’ to engage with organisers but they have not shared how they plan to keep people safe this year.

The group, which is made up of multiple agencies, said they were concerned about how emergency services would be able to respond if there was a major incident, after ambulances struggled to access the site in 2023.

A person holds the cheese at the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition

A person holds the cheese at the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling competition

A photo showing a competitor's feet after taking part in the cheese rolling competition

A photo showing a competitor’s feet after taking part in the cheese rolling competition

Participants, including American YouTuber and rapper, Darren Watkins Jr, known online as IShowSpeed or Speed, take part in the annual cheese rollin

Participants, including American YouTuber and rapper, Darren Watkins Jr, known online as IShowSpeed or Speed, take part in the annual cheese rollin

Participants can be seen sliding down the hill as they take part in this year's competition

Participants can be seen sliding down the hill as they take part in this year’s competition

Participants falling and tumbling as they take part in the cheese-rolling competition today

Participants falling and tumbling as they take part in the cheese-rolling competition today

The women's cheese-rolling race took off just after 1pm after a delayed start

The women’s cheese-rolling race took off just after 1pm after a delayed start 

Winner of the men's race Tom (pictured right) can be seen storming ahead in the first men's race today

Winner of the men’s race Tom (pictured right) can be seen storming ahead in the first men’s race today

Participants, including American YouTuber and rapper, Darren Watkins Jr, known online as IShowSpeed or Speed, take part in the annual cheese rolling at Cooper's Hill in Brockworth

Participants, including American YouTuber and rapper, Darren Watkins Jr, known online as IShowSpeed or Speed, take part in the annual cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth

A competitor leaves after competing in the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition

A competitor leaves after competing in the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling competition

A group of competitors rolling down the hill in today's event

A group of competitors rolling down the hill in today’s event

One very muddy competitor taking part in today's cheese-rolling event

One very muddy competitor taking part in today’s cheese-rolling event 

A dog waits with his owner as people compete in the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition

A dog waits with his owner as people compete in the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling competition

The winner of last year’s women’s race was knocked unconscious at the finish line and she only discovered she’d won when she woke up in a medical tent.

The start of the men's race this morning - the first event of a packed day's schedule

The start of the men’s race this morning – the first event of a packed day’s schedule

Spectators walk up the hill to watch the start of the races today amid sunny conditions

Spectators walk up the hill to watch the start of the races today amid sunny conditions

The cheese is let loose at the start of the men's race - followed by a horde of competitors

The cheese is let loose at the start of the men’s race – followed by a horde of competitors

Participants in the men's race stumble and fall over as they chase the rolling cheese

Participants in the men’s race stumble and fall over as they chase the rolling cheese

Winner of the men's race, Tom (pictured centre), can be seen leading the way during today's men's race

Winner of the men’s race, Tom (pictured centre), can be seen leading the way during today’s men’s race

Abby Lampe celebrates after winning her race at this year's Cooper's Hill competition

Abby Lampe celebrates after winning her race at this year’s Cooper’s Hill competition

Spectators were seen waiting patiently at the bottom of the hill for the races to begin today

Spectators were seen waiting patiently at the bottom of the hill for the races to begin today 

Spectators gather for the Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition to start in Brockworth

Spectators gather for the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling competition to start in Brockworth

The traditional event attracts people from around the globe who come to chase a 7lb Double Gloucester cheese down the steep Coopers Hill

The traditional event attracts people from around the globe who come to chase a 7lb Double Gloucester cheese down the steep Coopers Hill

People were today advised they would 'attend this event entirely at your own risk'

People were today advised they would ‘attend this event entirely at your own risk’

Despite yearly warnings about the event, people travel from all over the world to attend.

There are multiple races and the rules are simple – get to the bottom of the hill first.

Gravity does most of the hard work, as competitors run – or in most cases tumble – down the steep slope.

Volunteers are ready to help catch runners at the bottom but injuries are almost inevitable.

The history of Cooper Hill’s Cheese-Rolling event

The ceremony originally took place on Whit Monday, but was later moved to the Spring bank holiday.

The first evidence of cheese rolling is found in a message written by the town crier in 1826.

But even then, the writing suggested it was an old tradition, believed to be about 600-years-old.

Two possible origins have been proposed for the event. 

Some believe it may have evolved from a requirement for maintaining grazing rights on the common, while others believe it has pagan origins from the custom of rolling objects down a hill. 

It is understood that bundles of burning brushwood were rolled down the hill to represent the birth of the New Year after winter. 

It is also believed to have links to a traditional fertility rite where buns, biscuits and sweets are scattered from the top of the hill by the Master of Ceremonies (the official host). 

This in turn encourages the fruits of the harvest. 

 

Two possible origins have been proposed for the event. Some believe it may have evolved from a requirement for maintaining grazing rights on the common, while others believe it has pagan origins from the custom of rolling objects down a hill.

It is understood that bundles of burning brushwood were rolled down the hill to represent the birth of the New Year after winter.

It is also believed to have links to a traditional fertility rite where buns, biscuits and sweets are scattered from the top of the hill by the Master of Ceremonies (the official host).

This in turn encourages the fruits of the harvest.

In 1993, fifteen people were injured in the event, four of them seriously injured. 

In 2009 and 2011 it was cancelled due to safety concerns but despite this the event continued unofficially.

But in 2020 and 2021 the event was cancelled as a result of the Covid pandemic and returned on Sunday, June 5 2022, ending its two-year absence. 

On the official Facebook page, organisers say both spectators and participants attend at their own risk.

One senior police officer said: ‘If a major incident were to occur, if people were to slip at the top of the hill and fall, we would have a crush, we would have multiple casualties and we would have a requirement to respond.’

The ‘lack of appropriate planning’ means that emergency services would struggle to respond, he added.

The Safety Advisory Group said it was willing to help the organisers get the right documentation and insurance in place.

‘We would like to see evidence of safety documentation and risk-assessment processes’ said Tewkesbury Borough Council.

It attracts competitors from around the world.

In 2006, the American National Library of Medicine published a report from The Australian headlined ‘Dozens injured as cheese roll goes crackers.

‘Twenty five people were injured at an annual cheese rolling competition in which daredevils chase giant cheese wheels down a steep slope in western England.

‘Dozens took part in the bizarre event at Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, before a crowd of about 3,000 cheering spectators.

Signs have been put in place ahead of the event which was taking place today

Signs have been put in place ahead of the event which was taking place today

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust say they are not involved in the organisation of the event despite it taking part on land managed by the charity. Picture taken today ahead of the event

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust say they are not involved in the organisation of the event despite it taking part on land managed by the charity. Picture taken today ahead of the event

Organisers attempted to clear the hill for stones, rocks, brambles and other potential hazards for today's event

Organisers attempted to clear the hill for stones, rocks, brambles and other potential hazards for today’s event

Participants were spotted rehearsing their tumbling abilities ahead of the event

Participants were spotted rehearsing their tumbling abilities ahead of the event

Where did the cheese rolling tradition come from? 

Some say it was all about claiming grazing rights on the common and land around Cooper’s Hill, others believe it could have been a fertility ritual.

The cheese used is 3-4-kilogram Double Gloucester, a hard cheese traditionally made locally in a circular shape. Each is protected for the rolling by a wooden casing round the side, and is decorated with ribbons at the start of the race.

The cheese can reach speeds of up to 70mph.

Contestants run down the hill and the first runner to the bottom wins and the cheese is the prize.

Chris Anderson first competed in 2004 at the age of 17, coming second, and he won his first race in 2005 and beat the record.

Florence Early, from Stroud, first ran the race when she was 17 and is the four-time champion of the ladies’ race.

‘They raced for 200m down the slope after wheel-shaped Double Gloucester cheeses, decorated in a blue and red ribbon.

‘Many slipped, somersaulted, and tumbled their way to the bottom during five bone-crunching races over two hours.

‘Of the 25 people hurt, 12 were spectators, one of whom was hit by one of the hard, 4kg, dinner plate sized cheeses used in each race, but only two people were taken to hospital for further assessment.’

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

Cheese Rolling on Cooper’s Hill was painted by Charles March Gere in 1948, but the first written evidence is found from a message written to the Gloucester town crier in 1826, however even then it was apparent the event was an old tradition, and is believed to be at least six hundred years old.

Chris Anderson first competed in 2004 at the age of 17, coming second, and he won his first race in 2005 and beat the record. He has now claimed the title 23 times.

The father-of-three plans to compete for another few years – until his eldest son can take over the baton.

‘It’s all over so quickly,’ he said. ‘The first time I won I broke my ankle and had to get stretchered away.

‘I’m from the local village, so it’s good to keep the record in the village.

‘For the locals, it’s a massive event for us.’

Preparations for the competition took place all through last week – trimming away stinging nettles, picking up litter and cutting the grass.

The winner of each race gets to keep the Double Gloucester cheese wheel.



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