Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Monday, 26 May 2008 15:46 UK

Cheese racers in steep challenge

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The event is not for the faint-hearted

Dozens of competitors have been hurling themselves down a steep hill in a perilous annual cheese-rolling event in Gloucestershire.

Contestants descended the 200m slope, with a 1:1 gradient in parts, chasing a large Double Gloucester.

The winner of the first race at Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, a 19- year-old local man, was stretchered off wearing a neck brace and taking oxygen.

In all, St John Ambulance volunteers dealt with 19 injuries.

As the rain poured down it became impossible for racers to stay on their feet and contestants became caked in mud as they flipped, somersaulted and tumbled their way down the hill.

Cheese-rolling 2008 style
Competitors come from all over the world to take part

Christopher Anderson, 19, who won the first race, was carried away from the hill on a spinal board after hurting his back as he finished head over heels.

His friend, Shane Beard, from Brockworth, who also took part in the race, said: "The conditions were horrific, you just have to get your head down and hope for the best.

"Chris went absolutely flying - he is completely fearless but I hope he hasn't hurt himself."

It later emerged that Mr Anderson - who has won the title in consecutive years - did not require hospital treatment.

He returned to the event after receiving a check-up by paramedics and watched from the sidelines for the fifth and last race.

Among the other contestants were comedians Rory McGrath and Patrick McGuinness. They took part in the penultimate race and finished joint last.

After taking several tumbles, McGrath, 52, who lives in the Cotswolds, said: "I think my low centre of gravity counted against me."

Student Flo Early, 17, from Painswick, who was triumphant in the women's downhill section, said: "Next year I want to take on the boys."

The tradition, which is thought to date back hundreds of years, consists of a series of downhill races, with the winner of each receiving a cheese.

The race has been held at Cooper's Hill for the last 200 years.

Safety concerns led to it being called off in 2006 after rescue volunteers were unable to assist as they had been called to help with the aftermath of an earthquake.




SEE ALSO
Cheese racers will defy weather
25 May 08 |  Gloucestershire
Cheese-rolling race winners' joy
28 May 07 |  Gloucestershire
Dozens hurt in cheese roll race
29 May 06 |  Gloucestershire
St John's ready for flying cheese
27 May 06 |  Gloucestershire

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