From Cheese Girl to Cheese Champion

ISE alum Abby Lampe used her industrial engineering skills to win the world-famous cheese race again.

Falling down a hill might not seem like the ideal way to win a race, but for ISE alum Abby Lampe, it’s how she won her second Cheese Rolling Competition. Each year, hundreds of competitors gather near Gloucester, England, to participate in the cheese races. To win, participants brave a steep, 200-yard hill by rolling and chasing a double Gloucester cheese wheel. The notoriously steep and uneven hill makes it challenging to stay on your feet. However, Lampe still managed to come out on top, proving that sometimes, falling can lead to victory.

Abby Lampe at the top of the hill.
Lampe at the top of the hill.

Lampe didn’t initially reveal her plans to compete again. “I didn’t want more pressure on me to win, like, more than I put on myself,” she explained. “I told my friends and family, but I didn’t want the whole community to know because if I did lose, I didn’t want everyone to know.” But two years after her first win in 2022, Lampe decided it was time to renew her title. “People would recognize me in Raleigh, and they’re like, ‘Look, she’s the cheese girl.’ But then I’d have to explain that I won this competition two years ago, so it was becoming outdated,” Lampe shared. “I wanted to renew the title and the competition and compete again so that it would be refreshed.”

To achieve this victory for a second time, Lampe utilized her experience and ISE degree. Like her first competition, Lampe applied her engineering knowledge to the competition and studied the most efficient ways to roll down the hill. “I think the most optimal for me is rolling, like completely rolling, disregarding trying to do it by foot and running down it,” she said. This strategy helped her maintain momentum and speed. Another significant component of ISE and Lampe’s second victory is process improvement. When asked how she used her knowledge of the first race to secure a second win, Lampe reflected on the importance of her position on the hill. “Placement of where I was on the hill was really big,” she emphasized. “I wanted to go down pretty straight but go towards a little bit to the right of the hill.” When comparing it to her previous race, Lampe believes that her strategy and prior knowledge led her to success. “I think, understanding like two years ago, I basically rolled across like the whole width of the hill because I saw it up the left, and I went all the way to the right,” she remembered. “And so this time, I wanted to start on the left a little bit, but not as great as two years ago.”

Abby Lampe at the bottom of the hill.
Lampe at the bottom of the hill.

Aside from the difference in strategy, Lampe also got to experience the aftermath of her win differently. “Two years ago, I was still living in Europe, so I didn’t get to experience the hype around the U.S. with the community in North Carolina and the U.S. community,” she shared. “So I’ve been able to experience it fully this time, which is really fun.” The hype around her win has given Lampe many exciting media experiences. Lampe’s cheese rolling win has garnered lots of Wolfpack Pride, from being the guest of honor at the Belltower to interviews with the New York Times to t-shirts with Wolfpack Outfitters. 

The question on everyone’s minds: will she compete again? Yes, if the opportunity arises.  “If my schedule allows it, I am happy to go back. I think it’d be fun to try to get another championship and hurl my way down the hill,” she shared. “I’m still young, so that is a defining factor here.” 

Lampe’s second victory shows that with determination, perseverance, and some help from a degree in industrial engineering, one can accomplish anything one sets their mind to, especially if cheese is involved. When asked to give advice to current and future ISE students, the answer was simple. “You only have one life, so make the most of it. Live your life to the fullest and make experiences, do things.”