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May 27, 2009

Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling

Last Monday, May 25th, the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake was held near Gloucester, England. In a tradition that dates back at least 200 years, possibly much longer, groups of fearless competitors chase an 8 pound (3.5 kg) round of Double Gloucester Cheese down an extremely steep and uneven hill, with a 1:1 gradient in some parts. Thousands of spectators gather to watch the five downhill and four uphill races, and to celebrate the winners and console the losers afterward. Injuries such as broken bones and concussions are commonplace, but the event continues to grow in popularity. The winner of each race is awarded the delicious round of cheese they were chasing. (17 photos total)

Watched over by Rob Seex, the Cheese Rolling Master of Ceremonies (top hat), contestants in the men's race chase a Double Gloucester Cheese down the steep gradient of Cooper's Hill during the annual Bank Holiday tradition of cheese-rolling on May 25, 2009 in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Competitors scramble down Cooper's Hill in pursuit of a round Double Gloucester cheese on May 25, 2009 during the annual cheese rolling and wake near Gloucester. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) #

Racers run and tumble down Cooper's Hill after a round of Double Gloucester cheese on May 25, 2009, near Gloucester. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) #

A competitor falls as he runs down Cooper's Hill on May 25, 2009. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) #

Contestants in the men's race chase a Double Gloucester Cheese (center) down the steep gradient of Cooper's Hill on May 25, 2009 in Brockworth, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

Contestants in one of five races chase a Double Gloucester Cheese down Cooper's Hill as spectators cheer them on, May 25, 2009 in Brockworth, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

Sliding, rolling, running, competitors chase the Cheese on May 25, 2009 in Brockworth, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

After this notoriously dangerous race for the cheese, the man upside down was taken away to hospital. (© Will De Freitas) #

Spectators watch from below as contestants in the men's race chase a Double Gloucester Cheese down the side of Cooper's Hill during the annual cheese-rolling tradition on May 25, 2009 in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

Competitors run up Cooper's Hill on May 25, 2009 during an uphill contest in the annual cheese rolling and wake near Gloucester. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) #

The start of the third race (women's race), right at the top of the hill. (© Andrew Luxem) #

A competitor falls as he races down Cooper's Hill on May 25, 2009. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) #

The cheese races away from competitors (including one in costume and another clad in only a thong) in one of the annual cheese rolling races at Cooper's Hill, England Monday May 25, 2009. (AP Photo/Barry Batchelor/PA Wire) #

Contestants begin the men's race down Cooper's Hill on May 25, 2009 in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

An injured racer is lowered down Cooper's Hill after falling during a cheese rolling race in Gloucester on May 25, 2009. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) #

Cheered on by the crowd, competitors run, fall, slide and tumble after a Double Gloucester Cheese, down Cooper's Hill on May 25, 2009 in Brockworth, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) #

Michelle Kokiri, the winner of race 3, holds her prize high above her head - the same 8-pound Double Gloucester cheese round she had just finished chasing down Cooper's Hill on May 25, 2009. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) #

 
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