Gloucester cheese rolling race winner retires after spraining ankle

‘I’m done now, this is it,’ says victor Flo Early. ‘I’m in pain, it feels pretty uncomfortable’

Peter Stubley
Monday 27 May 2019 23:04 BST

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Bronchitis, sprained ankles and bad memories were not enough to put off competitors from taking part in the world-famous cheese rolling race.

Max McDougall, 22, claimed his first ever victory in the daredevil 200ft tumble down Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire.

His triumph came just 12 months after he knocked himself out trying to catch the cheese. ”I just went for it,” he said. “Pick a line and stick to it.”

Meanwhile, Flo Early, 28, won the women’s race for the fourth time – and immediately announced her retirement after picking up an injury.

“If you go fast from the beginning the hill will do the rest,” she said.

“You want to keep your ankles heavy in the ground and aim for the gate – that’s the tips I have been given.

“I’m done now, this is it, I’m retired. I’m in pain with this ankle, it’s a sprain but it feels pretty uncomfortable.”

The two other men’s races were won by nine-time victor Ryan Fairley, 29, from Brockworth, and Mark Kit, 21, from Toronto in Canada.

Mr Kit said he had been inspired to take part after seeing videos of cheese rolling as a child.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “I took the first 10 steps and I just started sliding and the next thing I knew I was at the bottom and nobody else beat me.

“Now we’re going to the pub. I got bronchitis yesterday and I figured I wasn’t going to win the uphill race and going down is a lot easier.”

Describing his technique, Mr Fairley said: “Just run and lean back and don’t just try and tumble forward because if you lean back you stay on your feet.

“My back does hurt a little bit but nothing that won’t sort itself out. I’ve got work tomorrow.”

The tradition of cheese rolling is thought to have its origins in a heathen festival to celebrate the return of spring.

It has been held annually on the Spring Bank Holiday for years but the official competition was cancelled due to health and safety fears after more than 15,000 people turned up to watch it in 2009.

The rebel version has continued, although a police warning in 2013 prompted the use of a lightweight foam cheese instead of the genuine article.

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Real cheeses, made by Diana Smart and her son Rod, who had produced cheese for the chase for more than 25 years, were awarded to the winners.

The madcap races attracted TV crews from around the world, including Netflix.

Champion cheese chaser Chris Anderson, who last year broke the record number of wins by claiming his 22nd victory, did not compete in this year’s context because he was on holiday.

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