Annual Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Tradition Continues Despite 'Official Ban'

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Photo Credit: Dave Farrance, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons.wikimedia.org

It's crazy and dangerous and has been officially banned since 2010. That, however, did not stop thousands of people from gathering at Cooper Hill in Brockworth, Gloucester, to cheer the cheese rolling enthusiasts running or rather tumbling down the 200-meter incline, in pursuit of an 8lbs wheel of Double Gloucester cheese.

Held annually on the last Monday of May, the wacky competition is an age-old tradition that dates back to the 1800's. However over the years, the race has become so popular that officials, concerned about the high injury rate, decided to ban it in 2010.

But that did not deter the organizers nor the fans who have continued this fun tradition that involves grown men and women to try to be the first one to catch the out of control cheese wheel. More often than not, they end up tumbling out of control and have to be caught by 'special catchers', before they injure themselves too badly.

This year, with over 100 male competitors flying in from all over the world, organizers decided to run five races, each with about 20 competitors. The first was won by 27-year-old Kenny Rackers who came all the way from Colorado Springs to take part in this crazy event. The Real Estate agent who was donned in a US stars and stripes ensemble, said he arrived three days in advance to practice for the event and though he took a nasty fall earlier on, his performance on the final day, proved to be flawless!

A view from Cooper’s Hill (where the dog walkers are) Photo Credit: Public Domain, wikipedia.org

The second race was claimed by Caleb Stalder from Australia, while the third went to a local - 23-year old Ryan Fairley, who finally tasted victory on his sixth attempt. The fourth race was won by 39-year old Tomoaki Tanaka who came all the way from Japan and chased the wheel down in a ninja suit! The fifth and final race were a bit of a damper due to a competitor's ankle injury - The only serious one reported in the race, this year.

In the women's race, it was a two-peat for 16-year-old local resident Lucy Townsend, who proudly showed off a graze on her stomach, and promised to come back next year for yet another win!

While the event seemed reasonable, there was a slight difference this year - Instead of chasing down a real wheel of the famous Double Gloucester cheese, the competitors had to chase down a foam version. This was because officials warned 86-year old chief cheesemaker Diana Smart that she could be held liable if she continued to assist in this 'illegal' activity! It turned out, nobody really cared! They were just here to have some fun and judging from the pictures, they sure did!

Sources: theguardian.co.uk, telegraph.co.uk, metro.co.uk

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