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Daredevils defy gravity in thrilling cheese-rolling contest

Participants take part in the annual cheese rolling at Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, England, Monday, May 27, 2024. The traditional event attracts people from around the globe who come to chase a 7lb Double Gloucester cheese down the steep Coopers Hill. (Jacob King/PA via AP)

LONDON (WISH) — On Monday, cheese fans threw caution to the wind and jumped into one of Britain’s craziest yearly events — cheese rolling!

Cheered on by thousands of spectators, scores of fearless racers chased 7-pound wheels of Double Gloucester cheese down the near-vertical Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester in southwest England, according to the Associated Press.

The first racer to cross the finish line behind the fast-rolling cheese in each race wins the coveted cheese wheel.

The races have been happening at Cooper’s Hill, situated approximately 100 miles west of London, since at least 1826. However, the roots of cheese rolling are believed to stretch back even further in time.

The rough-and-tumble event often raises safety concerns, with few competitors managing to stay on their feet for the entire 200-yard descent. This year’s race was especially treacherous due to slippery and muddy conditions following recent rain. Members of a local rugby club stationed themselves at the bottom of the hill to catch the tumbling participants.

Tom Kopke from Munich, Germany, emerged victorious in one of the three men’s races. Local competitors Josh Shepherd and Dylan Twiss from Perth, Australia, won the other two men’s downhill races. Abby Lampe from North Carolina triumphed in the women’s race with a lightning-fast roll that left her competitors far behind.

In addition to the downhill races, dozens of children and adults participated in safer but equally grueling uphill versions of the race. These uphill races, traditionally held on a late May national holiday, showcased the competitors’ stamina and determination.

The Tetbury Woolsack Races have been held since 1972, drawing on a local tradition that dates back to the 17th century in this historic wool-trading town.