Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mission possible: chase the cheese

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Interview question the first: "Have you ever chased cheese down a hill before?"

Kenny Rackers, Colorado Springs-based hopeful competitor in the May 27 Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake in Brockworth, England: "No, I have not ... but I did a project in college about obscure sports and learned about it ... I've wanted to do it for a long time, I've been putting it off."

And thus you have an explanation for 27-year-old Rackers' new nickname, The American Cheese Racer.

For the explanation on the truly bizarre race, it's best you take a few moments to watch this video:

Now that you're up to speed (no pun intended), let's return to Rackers' fascination with dangerously bombing downhill on foreign soil in hopes of bringing glory and prestige home to the U.S. — in 200 years, no American has won.

Rackers, a former Army veteran plus West Point and arena football player turned realtor, is deadly serious about the race, so much so that he's training four days a week with former Olympic wrestler Roger Stewart.

Training, he says, involves everything from sprints and box jumps to flipping tractor tires — "lots of power and strength exercises."

He hopes to not only win the downhill race, but also a separate race back up the hill — a feat he believes no other racer has ever accomplished.

The American Cheese Racer
  • He once ran after pig skin. Now, he plans to chase cheese.

But the physical training is only one angle the hobby kayaker and climber and all-round sportsman is working.

Aside from studying film of the race's reigning champion, Rackers is planning to shoot an inspirational documentary about his training and competition with the help of a local filmmaker.

He says it will include interviews with another American who competed in 2009 and finished close to the top of the pack — "leaning back is the best strategy," he says, noting it also helps to get a good start and get away from other people who fall — as well as chats with folks like a UCCS physics professor and an Olympic trainer and doctor.

Rackers hopes he can capture what he needs (including paying travel expenses) for less than $5,000, and he's seeking donations on his website, plus searching for sponsorships.

"First and foremost I expect to win," he says, noting that he wants to "positively effect one million people" thru YouTube and other platforms with his documentary, perhaps even making ESPN's top 10 and making national news with his victory.

"The documentary is really about encouraging people to pursue their goals and dreams," he says. "To do it now, not wait for tomorrow ... to inspire people to take the first step."

Of course, not everyone's first step has to be down a very steep hill and followed quickly by many other steps at great speed in pursuance of a dairy wheel.

And some folks have been vocal, expressing their bewilderment at why Rackers would care to go all the way to England to run down a hill, he says.

"I've had a lot of negative support, people saying it's trivial and stupid. But that's really the fuel," he says, citing the lesson of not letting others "hold you down."

Track the athlete's progress on Facebook too, where since mid-January, more than 1,400 people have liked his page.

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