By Eric Balmer
In a world of over seven billion people, there are plenty of sports that make one ask oneself, “How on earth did this come about?” Sure cheese-rolling is a bit strange and adult tag leagues are a bit creepy, but “wife-carrying” could be a whole other level of awkward.
Finland is the host of the annual wife-carrying contest. You may be asking (as I did when I first learned about this sport) what and how do the contestants participate in such an activity?
The first rule of the contest is everyone must have fun. And if you don’t have a wife, no worries because you can carry a “neighbor’s wife or someone he found further afield” (adventure.howstuffworks.com). To compete, the wife needs to be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 108 pounds. If a wife would like to compete who is less than the required weight, she is required to carry a rucksack for the difference.
As for the course itself, it appears to be quite a challenge. The length is 831 feet, and they must race on grass, gravel and sand. Not only do the contestants have to contend with the varying surfaces, they must also climb over two obstacles as well as wade through three foot deep water.
At this point, one may be wondering if there is a rule against a husband being carried by his wife. Even though (according to adventure.howstuffworks.com) Finland “adopted full gender equality,” the men must be the one to do the carrying.
Techniques are needed in sports to have an advantage over your opponents; wife-carrying follows this trend.
Although riding piggyback is utilized by some, by far the most common technique is the “Estonian Carry” (shown in the picture) obviously named after Estonia which is the country that has won the last 11 Wife Carrying World Championships. This technique distributes the wives’ weight evenly, but it’s difficult to execute.
Every year the winning team receives something that you might not expect. The winning team receives the wife’s weight in beer. You read right: the team receives at least 108 pounds in alcohol. As odd as it seems, wife-carrying may be a sport that continues for many years to come.