The Wife-Carrying Championship in Finland

Are you a real man or are you the real man? Quit taking those “Are You a Real Man” quizzes in the internet, grab your wife or any female volunteer, and carry her to Finland’s Wife-Carrying Championships. Okay, you don’t really need to carry any woman, you can just go there and watch the hilarious yet serious race that has even conquered other parts of the world.

Wife-carrying has its roots in the late 1800s when a gangster named Rosvo-Ronkainen living in Sonkajärvi, Finland accepted only men who can go through and accomplish a challenging race – stealing women from neighboring villages. Stealing women isn’t a practice anymore in the Finnish villages but the sport that emerged from it has become a tradition that’s been annually done since 1992.

There are certain rules to follow during the competition as stated by the International Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee:

  • The length of the official track is 253.5 meters with a sand track surface.
  • The track has two dry obstacles and a water obstacle about one meter deep.
  • The wife to be carried may be your own, or the neighbor’s, or you may have found her further afield; she must, however, be over 17 years of age.
  • The minimum weight of the wife to be carried is 49 kilograms. If she weighs less than 49 kg, she will be burdened with a rucksack containing additional weight to bring the total load to be carried up to 49 kg.
  • If a contestant drops the wife, he has to lift her on to his back or in his arms and continue carrying.
  • All participants must enjoy themselves.
  • The winner is the couple who completes the course in the shortest time.
  • The only equipment allowed is a belt worn by the carrier and a helmet worn by the carried.
  • The contestants run the race two at a time, so each heat is a contest in itself.
  • Each contestant takes care of his/her safety and, if deemed necessary, insurance.
  • The contestants have to pay attention to the instructions given by the organizers of the competition.
  • Wife Carrying Competition has two categories Official Wife Carrying World Championships Series and Senior series 40 years and older applicants.
  • Also the most entertaining couple, the best costume, and the strongest carrier will be rewarded with a special prize.

There’s also a team competition wherein three men carry the wife in turns. At every exchange point, the carrier has to drink an official “wife-carrying drink” before he continues the race. We’re not sure what’s in the “drink” but it’s alcoholic for sure which probably adds to the fun of this race.

There are different ways the carriers can carry their wives: the piggyback, over the shoulder also known as the fireman’s carry, and the Estonian-style where the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around the carrier’s shoulders while holding onto his waist.

Besides Finland, the wife-carrying sport is also enjoyed in Australia, USA, South America, Hong Kong, and Estonia which carries the wife-carrying world record of 55.5 seconds.

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