Running Up That Hill… Running Up That Road… With Cheese

 

We love this great write up by ‘Culture’ cheese magazine about  Shaftesbury’s Gold Hill Cheese Run which even got the BBC excited.

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It all started with a cracker of an idea by Charlie Turnbull… as Jonishna Levi explains:

 

“It’s just a theory, but it seems to me that ’80s British songstress Kate Bush might have been talking about more than the complexity of gender relations when she wrote the 1985 hit single “Running up That Hill.” I’m thinking she unwittingly penned an anthem for the Gold Hill Cheese Run of Shaftesbury, England.

What exactly is the Gold Hill Cheese Run? While the good people of Gloucestershire opt to throw themselves down Cooper’s Hill in pursuit of Double Gloucester Cheese, participants of the Gold Hill Cheese Run scramble up a treacherously steep and cobbled street hefting 14” diameter truckles of local cheese weighing 45-55 lbs. Yeah, umm… this would be a spectator sport for me, thanks.

While this hilarious video—set to Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding on For a Hero” (competition Kate?) makes this looks like a testosterone fest…

After a quick double take, and then a brief spell wondering if children from Dorset are just genetically hardy beasts, I discovered that the young ’uns are, in fact, carrying fake wheels made out of polystyrene.

How did this insane tradition start? It is just one of the events comprising the Shaftesbury Food & Drink Festival, which celebrates Dorset’s local cuisine with chef demos, live music, and street entertainment. The Gold Hill Run was added in 2012 – the brain child of cheesemonger and perpetual bowler-wearer Charlie Turnbull of Turnbulls, a combination cheese-shop/coffee-house/bistro. (He’s running in the video with, yep, his bowler and the “Trust Me, I’m a Cheesemonger” T-shirt.)

Turnbull got the idea for an uphill scramble from local lore about medieval cheesemakers, brewers, millers, and butchers racing to get their goods to the Abbey gates first so that they would be chosen by the Abbess for her High Table, thereby fetching the best price. Local cheese makers such as Westcombe Cheddar (which produces a hand-crafted “five mile” cheddar with notes of citrus, hazelnut, and caramel) and Quickes Cheddar (which ages its traditional, muslin-wrapped cheddars from 3 to 24 months) have supplied cheese for the race. First participants must lug the truckles down the hill to the start line, then they have to run like the devil, either clutching them to their chests or awkwardly out to one side. The winner gets a cheese prize as well as a crown.”

For more information on the festival and its zany cheese race, check out the event’s website!

The Gold Hill Cheese Run is a tribute to a millennia of cheese making in the Blackmore Vale, with “slightly mad” participants racing with the locally-made cheeses which are 35cm (14″) in diameter.

Each one takes up to 500 pints of milk to make – that’s a lot of effort from a lot of cows. But they are not very convenient to carry up a hill.

Enjoy the fun.  Enjoy the cheese!

Charlie T.

WINNERS’ HALL OF FAME

 

2015

Barnaby Cox – individual race winner

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2014

Relay team – Hammoon Cycles
Will Norgan (Hammoon Cycles)
Barnaby Cox – individual race winner
Jack Miller
Ian Miller

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2013

Relay team – Fitness by Design
Colin Fricker
Curtis Bashford
Mikey Clarke
Dean Porritt
Barnaby Cox – individual race winner

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2012

Relay team – North Dorset Rugby Club
Adam Trevis
Charlie Joblin
Robbie Sampson
Sam Trevis
Dan Wilson – individual race winner