New champion savours success as he hurtles to glory in cheese rolling race

Daredevils have thrown themselves down a steep hill in the annual death-defying Cheese Rolling Race.

Brave competitors sprinted, tripped and tumbled down Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire to try and win the 8lb Double Gloucester.

The recent dry weather had made then racetrack hard and even faster for the competitors who were cheered on by thousands of spectators.

The winner of the first men’s downhill race was Max McDougall, 22, from Brockworth, who won for the first time as champion cheese chaser Chris Anderson, 31, who has the record of 22 wins over the past 15 years did not compete as he was on holiday.

Last year Mr Anderson broke the record held by Stephen Gyde after winning the first of this year’s three men’s downhill races.

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Mr McDougall said: “It was better than last year when I knocked myself out.

“I normally come second to Chris. I just went for it, pick a line and stick to it.”

Rebel cheese rollers have been staging their own unofficial event after health and safety fears caused the official competition to be cancelled in 2010.

The cheese is chased 200 yards down the 1:2 gradient Cooper’s Hill at Brockworth.

After a year’s hiatus, when police warned against the use of a real cheese, the imitation lightweight foam cheese was replaced with the genuine article.

Long-time cheese-maker Diana Smart and her son Rod, who have produced cheese for the chase for more than 25 years, once again provided the wheels for this year’s event.

Four cheeses weighing about 3kg each and three smaller ones, weighing about 1.5kg, are used.

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.

The official event was cancelled after more than 15,000 people turned up as spectators to watch the 2009 competition.

Since then it has been held unofficially with the police keeping a watchful eye.

Local roads have been closed up to two-and-a-half miles around the slope.