“Wife-Carrying” It’s a thing in Finland.
Every year a small town of Sonkajaervi in Finland hosts the International Wife Carrying Championships. During this competition, husbands have to carry their wives along the track with various obstacles.
Finland is no stranger to strange sports: it has also given the world the world boot throwing, air guitar and mobile phone throwing competitions
You can buy spectator tickets on the day at the venue. Competitors can sign up via their online portal on the official championship website. Meet the friendly faces at the registration desk on the day to pay your 50 Euro fee.
If the designated ‘wife’ is lighter, she must carry a weighted rucksack, given to her by officials. For this great feat of strength, the world champions win the equivalent of the wife’s weight in beer, a bag full of wife-carrying merchandise and an official logo statue
The prize for winning the race is the wife’s weight in beer. It’s really all very civilized. The sport — yes, it’s a sport — originated in Finland, and was most likely inspired by a duo of historical tales.
A 19th century legend has it that men stole wives from neighboring villages.
If a contestant drops his wife, he incurs a 15-second penalty. Indeed, wives are dropped all the time — that’s why they wear helmets. Officials also award special prizes for best costumes, which adds a festive element to the event.
In addition to the standard wife-carrying race, couples have the option to participate in the official wife-carrying sprint, which is only 100 meters (328 feet) but includes similar obstacles.
The Wife Carrying World Championships also features a team competition, which has the same rules as the wife-carrying contest, but the three men on each team take turns carrying one wife. The twist? Before handing off his “wife” to the next contestant, each man must chug a drink.
You’re probably wondering if, in the interest of equal rights, a wife is allowed to carry her husband, or, if two women or two men can enter the contest. Finnish rules prohibit any team that isn’t strictly male/female, and with the man as the carrier.
Some consider this rule strange, considering the country of Finland prides itself on becoming the first parliament in the world to adopt full gender equality [source: Korpela]. But the sport is all in good fun. Even feminist Finn leader Pirjo Ala-Kapee believes the event isn’t demeaning to women, calling the wife-carrying contest “uplifting” and “authentic” [source: Mattox].
With any sport comes technique, and wife carrying is no exception. There are several different tried-and-true styles for carrying a wife. Although participants are encouraged to employ any technique they choose, most wives either: ride piggyback, sit on the man’s shoulders, lay around the man’s shoulders like a snake or a boa (fireman-style), or they climb on their partner for what is dubbed the Estonian carry.
The most popular style, the Estonian carry, was named for the country that’s won the last 11 Wife Carrying World Championships. The technique works well because it distributes the wife’s weight evenly and helps the carrier to retain optimum balance while he races. But it’s a tricky move to pull off. And, some people think it looks ridiculous. The wife clamps onto her partner, upside-down, with her front against the man’s back. She wraps her arms around his waist and her legs around his head and neck area. This means the woman must get up close and personal with her partn er’s rear end.
How does one train for wife carrying? The Finns humorously advise incorporating training into daily routine, of course — carry your wife around in the bath, the supermarket, the playground or the gym. But in all seriousness, John Farra, 2006 winner of the North American Wife Carrying Championship, trained by running around his yard with an 80-pound (36-kg) bag of cement on his back.
Fifty-three men slung their wives or partners over their shoulders and hurtled off on an hour-long race in the small Finnish town of Sonkajarvi on Saturday, as thousands of fans cheered from the stands.
The World Wife-Carrying Championship, now in its 23rd year, draws thousands of visitors to the town of 4,200 and has gained followers across the world.
There are official qualifying competitions in countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden and Estonia. On Saturday, 53 couples from 13 countries joined the competition, organisers said.