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UK's dangerous cheese race

Dozens of madcap competitors risked their necks for a shot at glory in one of Britain's most barmy annual events – chasing a rolling cheese down a steep hill.

30 May 2007

Around 3 000 spectators gathered in the rain to roar on the cheese-chasing daredevils who stumbled and tumbled down Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, southwest England.

They raced for 200 metres down the dangerously steep slope after the wheel-shaped Double Gloucester.

Jason Crowther from Pembrokeshire, west Wales, won the first of the five bone-crunching races to complete a hat-trick of victories over the last three years.

"There's no training you can do for this," said the battered 25-year-old, proudly clutching the 3-3.5 kg cheese.

"You have just got to go for it. It was a bit slippery and I heard something crack, which I think was my knee. But there aren't any tactics involved as you can probably see."

While the winners keep the cheese, race runners-up get £10 for their trouble, with a £5 note the reward for a third-placed finish.

Psychologist Jemima Bullock, 33, from Wellington, New Zealand, won the ladies' race. "It was a bit slippy out there but I think that actually helped. I guess you've got to be a bit mad to do this," she said as she nursed her bloodied knee.

Oddball Japanese television personality Daisuki Miyazaw, 34, claimed second place in one race. Seemingly dazed, he said: "We are strong, but it hurts so much," before hobbling off for medical treatment.

Brockworth's very own Chris Anderson won the final race. "I don't even like cheese much," admitted the grinning 19-year-old.

Twenty people were treated for minor injuries, paramedics said, down from 34 last year. "No-one was knocked out and most of the injuries we treated were for cuts and bruises and sprains," said Paul Jones, from the St John Ambulance charity.

Organiser Richard Jeffries said: "There are various people who would liked to see it stop, but it's an ancient British tradition that's gone on for centuries and we would like to see it continue."

The unusual event is thought to have its roots in a heathen festival to celebrate the return of spring.

story by AFP
image byImages24

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