Wife-Carrying World Championships

Wife-Carrying World Championships

Early July
The annual Wife-Carrying World Championships have been held in Sonkajärvi, Finland, since the 1990s. The residents of Sonkajärvi trace the idea of wife carrying back to a 19th-century bandit named Rosvo-Ronkainen. In order to join his band, prospective robbers had to prove themselves by running a kind of obstacle course. In those days thieves sometimes did carry off women from rival villages, so local residents combined the two ideas, inventing wife-carrying contests.
Just as in times past, the wife you carry off does not have to be your own. Today's male contestants may carry any woman over the age of 17 who weighs at least 49 kilos (107.8 lbs.). (Lighter contestants can enter if they carry weights that bring them up to 49 kilos.) The course measures 253.5 meters in length and includes one water obstacle and two dry land obstacles. Any contestant that drops his "wife" is fined 15 seconds. The couple that completes the course in the shortest length of time wins. In addition to a medal, the winning couple receives the wife's weight in beer. The contest includes a special division for men who actually carry their own wives.
Only about 30 couples compete in these world championships. These contestants include the winners of the North American Wife-Carrying Championship in Bethel, Maine. The Wife-Carrying World Championship is sponsored by the Association of Sonkajärvi Entrepreneurs and the local government, and is part of the three-day long Sonkajärvi County Fair, which also includes a beer barrel-rolling contest.
CONTACTS:
Sonkajärvi Eukonkanto Oy
Rutakontie 21
Sonkajärvi, 74300 Finland
358-17-2727-105; fax: 358-17-2727-106
www.sonkajarvi.fi