I believe the first question in your mind will be “Does such an absurd-sounding competition exist?”
You may be surprised to know that what was started as a light-hearted attraction designed to put the little town of Sonkajärvi on the map has become a serious contest, i.e. in 2008, the Wife-Carrying Championship attracted competitors from ten countries deadly earnest to win, and more than 5,000 spectators at that time.
It seems to me nobody knows the World Wife-Carrying Championship originated, but based on clues it is partly inspired by the practice of wife-stealing, a phenomenon that is common in the villages of eastern Finland; and partly from robbers who were reputed for robbing men of their wives along with their valuables.
How the Wife-Carrying Championship proceeds is that the contestants are kitted out in the style of Olympic athletes while the women wear protective helmets in case of misadventure. Each contestant has to sling a woman across his back and carry her over a gruelling 250m or 830ft obstacle course with log hurdles, rough terrain and deep water. There are various carrying styles, ranging from piggyback to upside-down-sack-of-potatoes. For those who drops his woman gets penalty-time added. The winner is the man who completes the course fastest. Basically, a man may partner with any woman over the age of 17, whether she’s his wife or not.
Facts for this interesting World Wife-Carrying Championship event:
- When: In July
- Where: Sonkajärvi, located in the province of Eastern Finland and is part of the Northern Savonia region.
- Champion: An Estonian called Margo Uusorg has won five of the past competitions and is generally acknowledged as World Champion.
- Contest Prize: Curious to know what the winner take home? Well, he gets to take home his woman’s weight in beer!
Many would agree that how idiotic or sexist this world wife-carrying championship may seem to be, the best for you to get caught up the excitement of that moment is to be in Sonkajärvi yourself!