B.C. woman wins Gloucester cheese-roll, unfazed by knockout: ‘Feels so good’

Click to play video: 'Famous cheese rolling race won by Nanaimo woman'
Famous cheese rolling race won by Nanaimo woman
19-year-old Delaney Irving from Nanaimo is making headlines for winning one of the craziest races in the world - despite knocking herself unconscious during the competition. – May 29, 2023

A 19-year-old from Nanaimo, B.C., has won bragging rights in one of the world’s strangest competitions — though it came at the cost of a concussion and a brief period of unconsciousness.

Delaney Irving won the women’s competition in the 2023 Coopers Hill cheese-rolling competition in Gloucester, England on Monday.

The annual contest sees scores of risk-takers hurl themselves down a 45-degree slope chasing a three-kilogram hubcap-sized wheel of Double Gloucester cheese. The first to the bottom wins the cheese and the right to call themselves champion.

Irving, who entered the contest for the first time this year, knocked herself out in capturing the title.

“I’m good, now that I remember it I am good,” she told British media Monday morning. “I remember running, and then I hurt my head, and then I woke up in the tent.”

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Click to play video: 'Canadian man goes all out to chase the cheese in Gloucester Cheese Rolling race'
Canadian man goes all out to chase the cheese in Gloucester Cheese Rolling race

Footage from the event shows the teen landing face-first on the grassy slope, knocking herself unconscious, but still managing to tumble to the bottom of the hill first.

“It feels so good, it just kind of hit me,” she added. “I think I will (be back next year) if I see around to it, yes. Despite the injuries, I think it’s worth it.”

The annual cheese rolling competition regularly draws thousands of spectators, and has even been featured in an episode of Netflix’s We Are the Champions.

It is also notoriously dangerous, and has generated a multitude of broken bones, sprains and concussions in a history some believe stretches back hundreds of years.

Irving isn’t the first Canadian to win the event: Toronto’s Mark Kit took home a 2019 men’s title.

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Click to play video: 'Man breaks record for most wheels of cheese won in annual cheese rolling race in U.K.'
Man breaks record for most wheels of cheese won in annual cheese rolling race in U.K.

Back home in Nanaimo, Irving’s mother Krista Endrizzi said she learned about her daughter’s victory — and head injury — in a phone call at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning.

“I said, ‘Are you okay?’ And I said, ‘Go to the hospital. And I love you. And you’re crazy. And I love you,'” she told Global News.

“I didn’t know she was doing it, I thought she was just watching it. Apparently she has a concussion, she was getting a CT scan, but I think she’s fine, as far as I know.”

She added she was thankful she didn’t see the video of the race until after she’d heard her daughter was all right.

“It was disturbing actually,” she said.

“She looked like a ragdoll, and when she landed she wasn’t moving. It was not every parent’s dream. But she’s okay so that’s all that matters.”

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Endrizzi described her daughter as quiet, but “pretty adventurous,” with plans to enroll in Vancouver Island University’s theatre program next fall.

As for Irving’s plan to defend her title in the 2024 cheese roll, Endrizzi said she’ll accompany her daughter to Gloucester to keep her off the slope.

“I don’t want her to do it again. We’ll watch,” she said laughing. “I’ll be restraining her.”

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