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American Hero Beats the British at Their Own Cheese-Rolling Game

England weeps as a man wearing the American flag captures Cooper's Hill's coveted wheel of dairy.

Call it the day that Wallace cried: On Monday, an American super-athlete beat the British by scrambling madly down a hill to capture a rolling wheel of cheese.

Kenny Rackers, a 27-year-old Army vet and football player according to the Colorado Springs Independent, had the great honor of snaring the dairy at the annual cheese-chasing contest at Cooper's Hill, a perilous downslope just east of the city of Gloucester. Rackers did so in the most patriotic way possible – dressed in a buttocks-hugging "morph suit" decorated like the Stars & Stripes. He annoyingly declined to chant "USA! USA!" during his victory interview with the Guardian, simply stating, "I came over specially for this and I did what I had to do to win."

The great cheese chase dates far back, with some saying it originated in the pagan fertility rite of rolling random stuff down hills. The event has gotten a lot of attention in recent years, even from ESPN, probably because of the possibility of some poor sucker snapping a tibia or ending a natural reproductive lifecycle in a made-for-instant-replay pratfall. That's because this hill isn't for weenies. Writes the site Cheese Rolling:

The slope has a gradient that is in places 1-in-2 and in others 1-in-1, its surface is very rough and uneven and it is almost impossible to remain on foot for the descent. Injuries incurred are usually minor and competitors (particularly the successful ones) enter again year after year.

This year, there was only one "casualty," reports the site. That was a man who broke a leg and, if you don't like limbs facing unnatural ways, you shouldn't go here to see what it looked like.

But did the American really win? Arguable! Because of liability concerns, British authorities threatened to deal with any cheesemaker who provided a creamy wheel to the race's organizers. So participants were instead hauling butt after a discus of artificial foam. Perhaps future sports historians will need to add an asterisk to this race:

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.