Fall down, get muddy, win cheese – it’s all in a day’s work for a cheese-rolling champion.
From rowing’s Heather Stanning to Rugby World Cup-winner Josh Lewsey, athletics’ Dame Kelly Holmes and boxer Nigel Benn, the Army has champions in all kinds of sporting disciplines.
Not so well known is the Phil Taylor of cheese-rolling: Chris Anderson of 1 Rifles.
The premise is simple: a wheel of cheese is slung down a ridiculously steep hill and the first person to catch it is crowned the winner, and gets to keep the cheese as their prize. It’s not a race for the faint-hearted – sprains and breaks are not uncommon.
Anderson is the current champ of Cooper’s Hill, in Gloucestershire, where the festival has been held since the 19th century. He won all three men’s downhill races at the 2017 event to take his tally to 20 cheeses won in 13 years. That hat-trick haul meant he matched the record of legendary roller Stephen Gyde for total cheeses won.
The next event will take place on the 2018 Spring Bank Holiday, where once again hundreds will flock to see if anyone can displace the current champ. Anderson, who turned up days in advance of the 2017 event to inspect the course and practice, indicated that he may start to wind down.
“Hopefully I’ll win one next year. I won’t be doing all the races next year, someone else can have a chance,” said Anderson. If he gets that one win, he will enter the record books as the most successful cheese chaser in history.
If you fancy your chances of stealing his crown, click here to find out more. Just don’t forget your crackers and a jar of pickle.