Cheese Rolling 2024: Everything you need to know ahead of the event at Cooper's Hill

There are few traditions in Gloucestershire as strange and as extreme as the annual Cheese Rolling event held at Cooper's Hill, which sees foolhardy runners chase a wheel of Double Gloucester cheese down a near-vertical field on the outskirts of its namesake city. The world-famous event draws daredevils from around the globe to trip, skid, roll, and generally tumble at high speeds to the bottom of the hill.

Previous winners of the steep cheese chase have come from as far afield as the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, and Canada, with all of the runners taking part knowing that they could be seriously injured and with the grand prize being just a 9lb block of cheese. This year's series of downhill races will be taking place on Cooper's Hill on the final May bank holiday Monday, May 27 from 12pm.

Anyone with a spring in their step and steel in their stomach can take part in the Gloucestershire event, with separate events for men, women, and children, as well as a gruelling uphill race. For the amateurs, at the end of the event each year there is an "idiots race", where members of the public try their chances at the hill when there is no cheese to chase.

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There is no need to register online or pay a huge entrance fee, the practice of chasing a wheel of cheese that is traveling at 70mph is much more informal than other extreme sports. People looking to put caution to the wind and take part in the downhill chase should turn up at Cooper's Hill at at aound 10am to scope out the field and put their name down to take part.

Spectators looking to get a good viewing spot for the free event should also get there before midday. Every year, videos of competitors tripping on an unforeseen divot, root, or just their own forward momentum will rack up millions of views from people around the world, fascinated by the images of foolhardy runners taking an often bruising fall down a Gloucestershire hill.

The practice of chasing the cheese was first recorded in 1826, though its exact origin is unknown. Some believe it came from claiming grazing rights on the common and land around Cooper's Hill, others think it could have been a fertility ritual.

The cheese is released by the Master of Cheese, who has even made their sacred journey to the top of the hill with a broken leg in recent years.

(This article was first published in May 2023 and updated on May 26, 2024)