OFFERING a spirited alternative to an afternoon spent quaffing beer and swatting mosquitoes at a summer cottage in the Finnish countryside, the annual Wife Carrying World Championship is again taking place 2-3 July in Sonkajärvi.

Not simply content with such bizarre competitions as the ant hill sitting competition, the mobile phone throwing competition or the annual swamp football match, Finland outdoes itself with a sport whose roots can be traced back deep in the region’s history.

Traversing a length of some 253.5 metres in approximately one minute, husbands must carry their wives in any way possible around a track that contains two dry obstacles as well as negotiating their way through a water obstacle, which is about one metre deep.

With the first Wife Carrying World Championship occurring in 1994, after 11 years of Estonian rule the championship returned to Finland last year when Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapanen took home the first prize.

Now with an official entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, this unique sport has spread to various cities in the USA and also down under to Australia, where they also hold a competition called “Husband dragging.”

Whilst the competitors don’t necessarily need to be married, it is stipulated by organisers of the championship that the minimum weight of the carried must be 49 kg and that she should be at least 17 years of age.

Wife Carrying
World Championships
3 July, Sonkajärvi

And what is the prize for the winning couple? The wife’s weight in beer, of course!

James O’Sullivan