Gloucestershire cheese-rolling takes place despite warning

image captionSome 3,000 spectators gathered on Cooper's Hill in the bank holiday sunshine
image captionA lightweight foam version of the cheese was used to make the races safer
image captionColorado Springs-based American, Kenny Rackers, won the first race
image captionDownhill races were held for both men and women
image captionLucy Townsend from Brockworth won the ladies' downhill race
image captionSome latecomers sat and watched the races from as close to Cooper's Hill as they could get

Thousands of people have gathered in Gloucestershire for the traditional cheese-rolling races on Cooper's Hill.

The unofficial event has taken place despite warnings from police that organisers could be liable for legal action in the event of an incident.

An estimated 3,000 people turned out to watch thrill-seekers chasing a foam copy of a double Gloucester cheese.

The tradition, which takes place near Brockworth, Gloucester, dates back to at least the early 19th Century.

'Dressed as ninja'

This year organisers replaced the cheese with the lightweight foam version in order to make the downhill race safer.

media captionThousands of people turn out for an unofficial cheese-rolling tradition in Gloucestershire.

Winner of the first race, Kenny Rackers, 27 - an estate agent from Colorado Springs in the US - said he came over especially for the event, a journey of some 4,000 miles (6,400km).

"I trained a long time for this and got hurt on the hill practising. I came three days early and I took a bad spill, but I came to win and that's what I did," he said.

"I came 3,000 or 4,000 miles just for this race. I put it on my bucket list and today it was to win and that's what I did."

The second race was won by Australian traveller Caleb Stalder, who is currently living in London.

"You can't control yourself whatsoever so it's a case of rolling down and seeing where you end up," said the 30-year-old, from Taree near Newcastle in New South Wales.

"I can't believe I got the cheese. It's awesome. I wasn't anywhere near being first down and the cheese took a bit of a turn and I caught it," he added.

The women's race and third men's race were won by competitors from Brockworth with the fourth race won by a man from Japan who had dressed as a ninja.

Police advice

Some 15,000 people turned out for the last official event in 2009, sparking concern over numbers as Cooper's Hill is said to be suitable for about a third of that number.

Every year since then unofficial races have been organised during the late spring bank holiday by local enthusiasts.

Gloucestershire Police confirmed earlier it had given advice to those who took part in planning the unofficial event.

"We feel it is important that those who, by law, could be constituted as organisers of the event, that they are aware of the responsibilities that come with it so that they can make an informed decision about their participation," a force spokesperson said.

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