What is World Wife Carrying Championship held each year in Sonkajarvi, Finland?
At 1st it’s a running competition. Competitors are running in pairs – man is carrying his wife, girlfriend or some other woman he might not even know. Race track is exactly 253,5 meters long and there are 3 obstacles on it. In our opinion the most difficult is the first one – you need to cross a swimming pool – 10 meters long and 1 meter deep. The other two obstacles are beams set at a height about 110 centimeters. Of course the idea is to defeat the race track in the shortest time. For additional mobilization, three pairs are starting at the same time.
The great myth is that the result of the competition depends only on the man. In reality the work to be done here is equal – a lot depends also on the woman. The man just needs to run and overcome obstacles. The woman has to hold the man properly (try to hang for 1.5-2 minutes upside down on someone who is running) and be ready for the fact that during the part in the pool her head might be under the water.
Most couples choose the Estonian technique – woman is hanging upside down on man’s shoulders in an embryonic position. It is the most effective technique, which is used by about 90% of starting couples. The rest run in many different ways, for exapmle fireman technique, where the woman is thrown across the shoulders of the man.
Eukonkanto – it’s Wife Carrying in Finnish – has a very rich history. The beginning of it is dated on the end of the 19th century. As legend says there was a gang of young men in Sonkajarvi. To prove that one is worthy of belonging to this gang, one had to sneak into a village and “steal” a woman. When it happened, you could be considered a full member of the gang of Finnish cutthroats, and if you were lucky, this woman could decide to marry you.
The modern history of Wife Carrying is also very interesting. In 2017, the competition took place for the 21st time! Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapanen won it for the sixth time. There were twenty-one annual championships – 9 gold medals won by Finnish couples, one was won by the Russians and 11 times Estonian couples were the best – Estonians won all the gold in a row – they dominated from 1998 to 2008. One of the Estonian couples also has a world record – in 2006 they menaged to beat the track in just 56.9 seconds! It gives a dizzying speed of 3:44 min/km – and remember that you have a wife on your back, a 10 meter pool and two more obstacles to overcome …
Wife Carrying competitions are also held in United States and Australia. Of course, there are some rules that apply all over the world:
- The length of the track is 253.5 meters
- The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbour’s or you may have found her farther ahead, but she must be at least 17 years old
- The minimum weight of the wife to be carried is 49 kilos. If she weighs less, she will be burdened with such a heavy rucksack to reach the desired minimum weight
- Every woman must wear a helmet
- All the participants must have fun
For those who find it hard to imagine, we recommend this video, which is a report prepared from last year’s championship by the BBC.
The next edition of the World Wife Carrying Championship in Sonkajarvi will take place on 6-7 July 2018. If you want to go there, check out the official website of the event – eukonkanto.fi
We got acquainted with all the guidelines and we were sure – this is a race for us. There was nothing left for us but to go on a trip to Finland.