The Recent Winner Of Britain's Cheese Rolling Contest Broke This Streak

At their most basic level, sports are about people competing against one another. At a deeper level, however, sports are an examination of inner courage and fortitude, as contestants test their ability to overcome adversity, and their willingness to push past all previously known limits of endurance. It's this combination of mental and physical stamina, this search for a personal best that defines all great sporting events, whether it is the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the Olympics, or the Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling.

Yes, we're including the latter event, which takes place annually near the English town of Gloucester and sees contestants race headlong down a precipitously steep 200-yard hill in hot pursuit of an over-sized fermented dairy product, among the world's preeminent sporting competitions. This year's winner, according to the North Carolina State Alumni Magazine, suffered bumps, bruises, scratches, burst blood vessels, and a chipped tooth on her way to earning a giant 8-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese in the women's competition.

Her name is Abby Lampe, and the 21-year-old NC State alumnus made history (recorded history, anyway) as the first American woman ever to win the event. A 27-year-old U.S. Army veteran named Kenny Racker was the first American winner in the men's event — both downhill and uphill — in 2013, per Sports Illustrated.

In pursuit of glory and cheese

The Gloucestershire-based Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling dates back hundreds of years, according to Sports Illustrated (SI), and its dangers are legendary. The muddy hill is so steep contestants are lucky to stay on their feet for a few steps before pitching headlong, rolling, and tumbling for 200 yards until they're forcibly stopped by rugby players. So perilous is the race that contestants are warned that they do so at their own hazard, notes the NC State Alumni Magazine.

This year's race was the first in two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, per SI. Lampe, who is traveling through Europe this summer, is an experienced endurance athlete, having previously taken part in the Krispy Kreme Challenge, in which she overcame the consumption of a dozen donuts mid-race en route to completing a five-mile road race. In addition to this training, Lampe said she also practiced rolling down hills in a Raleigh, North Carolina park. 

The preparation certainly paid off in her historic victory. "I knew I was going to fall down at some point, but I didn't expect to fall down so early and just keep rolling," Lampe told the NC State Alumni Magazine. "I could feel my face getting smushed in by the hill. I just wanted to get to the bottom of the hill."

She did, and the glory and the cheese are hers, forevermore. Well, the glory anyway. She plans to make a charcuterie board with the cheese, per SI.