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Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling, Brockworth, England

Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling

The origins of this event go back about two hundred years to the early 1800s, and due to a number of factors, including its traditional nature, its relative informality, and its itinerant nature in the past 15 years, it’s tricky to get the full story. Suffice to say, some believe it has its roots (date back to times of the Romans) in pagan rituals celebrating the start of spring; some say it’s fertility related; other reports say it also took place alongside other unusual competitions.

In the past nearly 20 years, the event has been held with some regularity almost every year, typically on the last Saturday in May and is presided over by a Master of Ceremonies.  On any given year, several thousand people get together and watch roughly between 20-40 contestants (in numerous races with different contestants each time) chase a 8-pound wheel of cheese or, in 2013, its plastic replica) down a very steep (with a 2:1 gradient)(295 foot) hill in the English countryside. On purpose. For fun. For bragging rights. And, of course, to take home the cheese—which can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, hurtling down the hill. If you’re the first one down the hill, you win it.