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Meet Abby Lampe, two-time champion of the cheese-wheel-chasing race


Abby Lampe has done my home state proud again. The North Carolinian competed last week in an event near Gloucester, England. She tumbled down Cooper's Hill, a very steep, somewhat muddy 200 yards, following after an eight-pound wheel of cheese. And she won. It's her second time as a cheese-wheel-chasing champ, and we just had to know why. Abby Lampe joins me now. Welcome to the program.

ABBY LAMPE: Hi. Yes. Thank you.

RASCOE: So congratulations. Are you OK? Because the way you tumble down the hill, I mean, you go head first, and you are rolling. I watched the video in shock.

LAMPE: I am 100% fine. I didn't suffer any injuries at all. Maybe like, one bruise, but other than that, I can walk fine - no bones broken, no sprains.

RASCOE: Wow, really? And do you mind asking how old you - me asking how old you are?

LAMPE: I'm 23.

RASCOE: This is an annual event with a couple of men's races and one women's race. And someone rolls cheese down the hill, and a bunch of you literally roll down after it. And you have a winning strategy. So tell me about the strategy. It seems to be just being absolutely fearless and throwing your body down (laughter).

LAMPE: Yeah, that's about right. So some people like to stay on their feet, and then if they do fall, they get back up and try to run down. My strategy is to completely disregard that, to go into the race and hurl myself down the hill and continue rolling. I think the momentum that I obtain by rolling allows me to continue that and then not have to, like, stop and start.

RASCOE: So you first won the women's race at Cooper's Hill a couple of years ago. Why did you want to go back to England and try again?

LAMPE: I get recognized locally sometimes, and I have to explain like, yeah, I won this race two years ago. And it's becoming aged. I don't want to cling onto a victory that I've won two years ago because it becomes unrelevant. That's why I came this year, to defend the title that I had won two years ago and bring the title back to the U.S.

RASCOE: Now, other than, like, bragging rights, what did you win?

LAMPE: I won eight pounds of cheese.

RASCOE: (Laughter) That's it? And what do you plan to do with all of that cheese?

LAMPE: I plan on having a cheese party.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

LAMPE: So I'm going to invite some friends and family, and we're going to have another cheese party. I am going to have to get them to eat the cheese this time, though. I don't think they liked it a ton last time.


LAMPE: It's just a very, very pungent cheese flavor.

RASCOE: (Laughter) OK.

LAMPE: You, like, have to have it with a jam or crackers or fruit. Like, eating it by itself is probably not the best.

RASCOE: OK. So is this the end of your cheese-chasing days, or are you planning to head back next year?

LAMPE: I think I'm in my prime cheese-rolling age right now. So I think I might be able to pull some more wins out and continue to compete.

RASCOE: OK. Well, please be careful, OK (laughter)? 'Cause it looks quite scary. That's Abby Lampe of Raleigh, N.C. She won the women's race in the Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake event near Gloucester, England, last week. Thanks for talking to us, and I hope someone gives you a Costco-sized box of crackers for all that cheese.

LAMPE: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
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