The Cheese Rolling competition takes place annually on the last Monday of May (Credit: Dave Farrance/ CC-BY-SA-3.0/ Wikimedia Commons)

Every year on the last Monday of May, thousands of people from around the world gather at Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire, England, for the Cheese Rolling competition. This unusual contest requires participants to run, or as is usually the case, tumble, down the steep hill to try to catch an 8-pound (3.6-kg) rolling wheel of cheese.

The lively event is believed to have started in the 1800s as a way to settle land ownership disputes. It remained a well-kept secret, known only to locals, for decades. However, that changed in 2009 when 15,000 people flocked to Cooper's Hill to watch the race. Concerned about the potential for injuries, local authorities decided to cancel the competition. But that has not stopped organizers or fans from showing up every year to carry on the fun tradition.

This year's competition took place on May 27, 2024. It comprised four downhill races — three for men and one for women. Each was limited to 25 competitors. There were also three uphill races — two for kids and one for adults.

Abby Lampe claimed her second cheese-rolling victory (Credit: Coopers Hill Cheese Roll/ Facebook/ CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Each race began with the release of a cheese round from the top of Cooper's Hill. Participants then sprinted down in pursuit of the tumbling wheel, which can reach speeds of up to 70 mph (112 km/h). Out-of-control racers were caught by volunteers from the local rugby team standing at the bottom of the hill.

The men's downhill race winners included first-time competitors Tom Kopke from Germany and Dylan Twist from Australia. Gloucester resident Leilani Ryder took home her fifth title in the adult's uphill race, while USA's Abby Lampe claimed her second victory in the women's downhill race. Lampe, who plans on returning, said the key to winning is embracing the fall and rolling to the bottom.

"There's a bit of pain, but it's just going to be temporary," she said.