Finland’s Unique Wife-Carrying Competition

Photo by Shehla Z via Flickr

In the Finnish sport of wife-carrying, male competitors carry their female partners (not always their wives) through an obstacle course while racing one another for the best time.

Also known as “Eukonkanto” in Finnish, wife-carrying allows for several carrying styles: the classic piggyback, the fireman’s carry (with the wife over the shoulder), and the Estonian-style, where the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around the husband’s neck.

Hamish Darby via Flickr

The unique sport has been around since 1992 and every year, there’s a world championship competition in Sonkaj√§rvi, Finland (where it all got started). The winners receive the wife’s weight in beer as a prize.

The sport has also become popular in the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Germany, the UK and more. If you’re in the U.S., check out the annual North American Wife Carrying Championship in Maine.

Some of the rules:

  • all wives must be at least 17 years old
  • all wives must weigh at least 108 pounds (and if they don’t, they will be “burdened with a rucksack containing additional weight”)
  • the length of the course is about 831 feet
  • The only equipment allowed is a belt worn by the carrier and a helmet worn by the carried.

The origin of the sport is based on the legend of a Finnish bandit named Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen who lived in the late 1800s and was known for stealing food and women from nearby villages. He would only accept men into his gang if they could pass a test of carrying a heavy sack through an obstacle course. Some say that the sack was actually a woman that he had abducted, and that the sport evolved from this practice of “wife stealing.”

Written by Editorial Team

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