The Olney Pancake Race may have its imitators but Olney is the original. They've been running it on Shrove Tuesday in this northeastern corner of Buckinghamshire for at least 570 years. In this age of equal opportunity regardless of gender, the Olney Pancake Race is a strictly female affair. Only women who have lived in the town for at least six months are eligible to enter. They dress in traditional "housewife" gear - aprons and headscarfs and must toss a real pancake in a frying pan while running between The Bull in and St. Peter and St. Paul Church. Tradition has it that the race began because a townswoman late for the Shriving service at the Olney parish church.
Since 1950, it's been a transatlantic sport,run against pancake tossers in Liberal, Kansas. The winner is determined by comparing times in a transatlantic telephone call.
No sign of this becoming an Olympic event anytime soon - but maybe it will make it into the London 2012 opening ceremony.
Fit young daredevils, male and female, head for Coopers Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, every year on the second May Bank Holiday, to throw themselves down a very steep, grassy slope in pursuit of a wheel of Double Gloucester Cheese. The hill is so steep that sometimes spectators find themselves rolling down by accident and the starter, who sets the cheese rolling has to be held by the organizers to avoid rolling away with the cheese him or herself.
This is another one of those events that's been going on for hundreds of years. Local officials tried to ban it for health and safety reasons a few years ago, but there was such an outcry they had to reinstate it. Ambulancemen and first aiders attend because there are usually some cuts, bruises and sprains before the winner takes the cheese.
In 2012, the second May Bank Holiday has been moved to June 4 as part of the 4-day holiday for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The Cheese Roll will take place on that day.