Competitors chase a wheel of cheese down a hill in a chaotic race in the UK

LONDON (AP) — The UK’s top sporting events are back.

Hundreds of spectators gathered on Monday to watch dozens of daredevil runners chase a 7-pound (3-kilogram) wheel of Double Gloucester cheese down the near-vertical Cooper Hill, near Gloucester in southwest England.

The first contestant to finish behind the fast-rolling cheese gets to keep it.

The cheese-rolling race has been held at Copper Hill, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of London, since at least 1826, and the sport of cheese-rolling is believed to be much older.

The rough and tumble event often comes with safety concerns. Few competitors managed to stay on their feet all the way down the 200-yard (180-meter) hill, and several this year had to be helped, limping, off the course.

Canadian contestant Delaney Irving, 19, won the women’s race despite being briefly knocked unconscious.

“I just remember hitting my head, and now I have the cheese,” said Irving, who hails from Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Matt Crolla, 28, of Manchester in northwest England, won the first of several men’s races. Asked how he would prepare, he told reporters, “I don’t think you can practice for that, do you? It’s just being an idiot.”

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