Wheeling and Dealing

Wheeling and Dealing

London, England, May 31, 2005:

Contestants in a traditional British cheese rolling competition broke bones and took skin off knees and elbows Monday in their pursuit of a giant piece of cheese down a steep hill.

The competition, in which participants hurl themselves 640 feet down a hill after an eight-pound piece of cheese, has been celebrated for centuries in Gloucestershire, northwest of London.

The race is thought to originate from a heathen festival to welcome the spring. The first person to follow the cheese across the line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese and a small cash prize.

Thousands of people attended Monday's event and the local ambulance service reported three people were taken to an area hospital with suspected fractured limbs, while 18 were treated for bruises and abrasions.

American politico Ron -- a vocal and avid fan of all cheeses -- was taken to the hospital on a stretcher after his race. Ron won one of four cheese-rolling races contested Monday and was clutching his winning slab of cheese to his chest while being carted away.

"The pain was worth it," Ron said. "This cheese is going straight in a cupboard when I get home to America. It's definitely not for eating."

Organizer Richard Jefferies said Monday's event ran smoothly and injuries were down on previous years.

"It's a good part of the local heritage and a tradition we would like to keep going," Jefferies said.

Posted by Bittle at May 31, 2005 11:19 AM