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> Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling - here's a few tips ...
Useful information

The Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake is primarily an event for the residents of Gloucestershire. If you are thinking about becoming involved in this event please respect the town, its inhabitants, the rules of the game and the other players. This is a very good natured event, and everyone I met was extremely friendly and helpfull.

The Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake is a real laugh, but is a lot more dangerous than it looks. When we did it in 2002 at least one person wound up being karted off in an ambulance after almost every run - and considering only 15 people participate in each run the odds of being injured are not favourable. The injuries are more than scrapes and briuses. In the run that I did Stuart Anderson broke bones on both sides of his right ankle and was taken to hospital where he received a metal plate and 9 screws.Yikes....

Useful information
The History of the Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake: The precise history of this ancient event is unclear. Some historians believe that the event predates the Romans, others link the event to an old heathen festival which celebrates the return of spring and others believe it is associated with fertility rights and the hope of a bountiful harvest. What ever its true history may be one thing is certain and that is that the Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake has been around for a very long time and it is damn exciting to watch and even more exciting to participate in. Long may it continue!
Event date: 25 May 2009

The next Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling is scheduled to take place on 25 May 2009 starting at noon (but get there early).

The Hill
The actual course on Coopers Hill its about 200 yards long which might not seem a lot, but its damn steep. The gradient is 1 in 2 for most of the course but it is 1 in 1 in places and to make matters worse the surface is rough and uneven. The best running line to take is pretty much down the centre. If you veer off into the side areas the grass tends to be a bit longer making it more difficult to find your footing and you stand a greater chance of having your feet slide out from under you
Location and Car Parking

Location: Coopers Hill is on the south part of Brockworth, Gloucester, Gloucestershire (UK). The Hill is visible from the A46 and there is a large temporary car park in operation which is sign posted from the A46.

Car Parking: the car park fee is about 5 which helps pay for the cost of running this event.

How the race works
There are 4 downhill races (3 races for men, 1 race for women) and 3 uphill races. The uphill categories are as follows: a) boys under 12, b) for girls under 12, and c) open to all comers)

The Master of Ceremonies (in the white overall) is in charge of starting each of the 4 downhill races. The 15 runners (maximum) enter through the side gate at the top of the hill and sit on the steep bank. The Master of Ceremonies then welcomes the guest who has the honour of releasing the round of cheese and he or she sits (positioned centrally at the top of the hill) with the cheese. The Mater of Ceremonies then says: "One to be ready, two to be steady, three to prepare (at which time the cheese is launched), four to be off (then the runners lead forward chasing the cheese down the hill). The first participant to reach the bottom of the hill wins the 7 pound round of cheese.

Limited number of runners: for safety reasons the number of participants in each race has been restricted to 15. In previous years there was as many as 40 taking part but with a only a few paramedics available it is considered too risky to run such a large group now a days.

How to enter the downhill race
Its free to enter the race and pre-registration is not required, just show up, notify the security man and the Master of Ceremonies on the top of the hill that you would like to enter one of the races and you are off. The event is often oversubscribed so its probably best if get there early and make your intentions well known.
What to wear

Quality footwear is vital. If you don't want your feet to slip out from under you could opt for something with knobblies such as football boots, cross-country trainers, or mountain/walking boots. If you prefer your feet to slide out, wear ordinary boots or trainers.

Basically the more traction you have the more likely you are to get a twist or jarring injury to your ankles, knees, legs... The less traction you have, the more likely it is that you'll have your feet slip out from under you which could cause a number of injuries, ranging from broken or sprained wrists, arms, and other injuries associated with sliding and tumbling down a big hill.

Clothing: protective armour would be good but traditionally its not in the spirit of the event. Most runners wear clothing that is tough and can withstand some abuse like jeans and a rugby shirt. If the conditions are dry the ground will be damn hard and you are more likely to acquire bruises and abrasions.

If you participate in this event you should expect to be injured!

A few tips which might help...

Most participants only get s few steps in before they start tumbling or sliding on the steep upper section. Remember like in motorcycling 'its better to lowside than highside' because you stand a much greater chance of serious injury if you start tumbling head over heals so given a choice its better to have your feet slide out from underneath you and slide on you bum (sure, you'll still collect injuries but they may not be as severe). The technique that was recommended to me by some local guys (who have done this event loads of times) is to run as if you are leaning back slightly.

If you do start to tumble for God's sake try and protect your neck from injury. If you start sliding you'll find that you might be able to scrub off some speed nearer the base of the hill (where its not quite as steep) and you may find that it might be possible to get back on your feet and finish the race.

Note: The are guys in yellow vests at the base of the hill are there to catch you and slow you down so that you don't run into the building at the end of the course.

Tips for the spectators

Although there is a safety fence to separate the spectators area from the course, it is not uncommon for spectators to be injured in this event. In 1997 one of the spectators was hit by the cheese and was sent tumbling down the hill and required hospital treatment - so stay alert and keep an watchful eye on your children.

Remember to wear sensible footwear which will provide traction on the steep grassy slope (i.e. sturdy walking boots). Don't loose you footing when watching the race or you'll be tumbling onto others.

Get to Coopers Hill at least 1 hour before the event to secure a good position to watch the races

The Coopers Hill Cheese Rolling is a charity event. If you see some one collecting for the charity please give generously.





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Ok, so entering in the Cheese Rolling won't be too much of a hammering on your wallet, but remember to factor in the cost of being injured, time off work...