staff and news service reports
updated 3/12/2010 11:23:07 AM ET 2010-03-12T16:23:07

A 200-year-old English race in which competitors chase round cheeses rolling down a hillside has been canceled this year because of overcrowding concerns.

Organizers say the event in Gloucestershire in southwestern England has become so popular that anticipated crowds have far outgrown the capacity of the location.

The event has been held at Cooper's Hill since at least 1826.

Organizers said Friday that thousands of people tried to attend last year and some 19 spectators were injured while watching competitors run after — and tumble down — the steep, slippery hill in pursuit of a 7-pound Double Gloucester cheese.

One organizer, Richard Jefferies, told the BBC: "A few years ago, we were only having several hundred people.

"Last year, the police estimate was 15,000 and they reckon it will be even more this year because it has got so internationally well-known.

"It's a matter of trying to find some way of reducing the numbers attending."

Dozens of people are usually treated for bruises and sprains at the event each year.

Cheesemaker 'shattered', 'shaking'
The BBC said all the cheeses rolled down the hill were made by Diana Smart, 83, at her farm at Birdwood in the Forest of Dean, England.

She told the broadcaster that she was "shattered" by the cancellation.

"I'm shaking at the prospect of not having any cheese-rolling," she said.

"It is one of our biggest raisers of funds for the business, particularly this year when we're desperately trying to increase our premises."

The winner of each race, which organizers hope to run next year, wins the cheese.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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