Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Jubilee cheese tops race prizes

Chris Anderson (left) celebrates after winning the first race during the annual Cheese Rolling competition in Gloucestershire
Craig Fairley lands on his head (bottom) on his way to winning the Jubilee Cheese Race at Coopers Hill near Brockworth, Gloucestershire

A special "Jubilee cheese" was the top prize as rebel cheese rollers took part in a bizarre local competition to chase an 8lb piece of the dairy product down a steep hill.

Hardcore thrillseekers staged their own unofficial event after the world-famous Cheese Rolling was officially cancelled in 2010.

Competitors took part in four races down the 1:2 gradient slope - three men's races and a women's - with the final men's race held with a "Jubilee cheese".

The bizarre annual event attracted participants, spectators and media from across the world to Cooper's Hill, at Brockworth, near Gloucester.

Several hundred spectators watched as the daredevil athletes pursued the Double Gloucester cheese down 200 metres of slippery, wet grass, brambles and nettles. They slipped, somersaulted and tumbled their way to the bottom of the hill in spectacular fashion and the first person to grab the cheese won.

Craig Fairley, 26, from Brockworth, won the Jubilee race while local champion cheese roller Chris Anderson, 24, won the two other adult male races. Lucy Townsend came out on top in the women's race.

Mr Fairley said he was not intending to take part this year and had been helping to catch people as they reached the bottom of the hill.

"I was at the bottom tackling and just thought why not have a go," he said. "I've won three cheeses. In 2006 I won one, 2008 I won one and now 2012 - and this is the Jubilee one. I don't even like cheese."

The unusual event has been celebrated for centuries and is thought to have its roots in a heathen festival to celebrate the return of spring.

But in 2009 more than 15,000 people turned up as spectators, causing safety concerns. The event was cancelled in 2010 and in 2011 it was halted after plans to charge £20 were met with protests.

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