Recent NC State Grad Rolls to Victory in Legendary British Cheese-Chasing Race
Brave Brits have been participating in the Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake for six centuries. The bizarre and decidedly dangerous event takes place each spring on Cooper's Hill in near Gloucester. It's a race where hundreds of people risk life and limb to chase a wheel of cheese down a very, very steep hill.
After a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the silly event returned to the hill over the weekend. And, in a delightful twist, the person who took home this year's title of women's cheese-roll champ hails from North Carolina.
Abby Lampe, 21, is a Smithfield native and recent graduate of NC State University. She told Sports Illustrated that she became determined to compete in the race after seeing footage of it on social media.
"It's a funny thing. I love doing competitions, especially ones that are obscure—I've done the Krispy Kreme Challenge," she said. "I'm just a very competitive person. I grew up very competitive, and I knew this was something interesting and one of a kind, so I really wanted to participate and contribute to such an event."
Lampe, who graduated in May with a degree in industrial and systems engineering, is spending the summer in Spain. She told SI that before she left home, she prepared by honing her rolling technique in Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh. But no amount of preparation could have prepared Lampe for the scale of Cooper's Hill. Or the raucous "cheese" chants.
"It was so much deeper in person than it looks in videos or photos," she recalled.
Somehow, save for some minor bruises, Lampe emerged from the roll unscathed.
"There was definitely dirt in my teeth," she told the publication. "But, no, I'm not worse for the wear, honestly. It's really shocking."
Lampe, who competed in an NC State sweatshirt, is part of a Wolfpack family that includes four generations of affiliations with the university. Her great-grandfather, J. Harold Lampe, was the longest serving dean of the School of Engineering in the institution's history.
"I knew I had to represent NC State well during the race," she said in an NC State news release.
As for the cheese—a nine-pound wheel of Double Gloucester—Lampe said it's currently on its way back to North Carolina. She's planning to do a cheese unveiling with her family when she's back in America in August.
"It's going to be a little wait, but hopefully, we're going to have a nice charcuterie board," Lampe told SI.