Wife carrying (Finnish: eukonkanto or akankanto, Estonian: naisekandmine, Swedish: kärringkånk) is a contest in which male competitors race while each carrying a female teammate. The objective is for the male to carry the female through a special obstacle track in the fastest time. The sport was first introduced at Sonkajärvi, Finland.
Several types of carry may be practised: piggyback, fireman's carry (over the shoulder), or Estonian-style (the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around the husband's shoulders, holding onto his waist).
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Eukonkanto first originated in Finland. Tales have been passed down from one person to another about a man named Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen. This man was considered a robber in the late 1800s, lived in a forest, and ran around with his gang of thieves causing harm to the villages. From what has been found, there are three ideas as to why/how this sport was invented. First, Rosvo-Ronkainen and his thieves were accused of stealing food and women from villages in the area he lived in, then carrying these women on their backs as they ran away (hence the "wife" or woman carrying). For the second idea, it has been said that young men would go to villages near their own, steal other men’s wives, and then have the woman become their own wife. These wives were also carried on the backs of the young men; this was referred to as “the practice of wife stealing". Lastly, there was the idea that Rosvo-Ronkainen trained his thieves to be "faster and stronger" by carrying big, heavy sacks on their backs, which could have eventually evolved to a sport because of the hard labor (endurance) and muscle strengthening, which most sports ensure. Even though this sport has been considered by some as a joke, competitors take it very seriously, just like any other sport.
Wife carrying is now practiced in Australia, the United States of America, Hong Kong, Estonia, the UK and other parts of the world besides Finland and has a category in the Guinness Book of Records.
The original course was a rough, rocky terrain with fences and brooks, but it has been altered to suit modern conditions. There is now sand instead of full rocks, fences, and some kind of area filled with water (a pool). These are the following rules set by the International Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee:
- The length of the official track is 253.5 meters.
- The track has two dry obstacles and a water obstacle about one meter deep.
- The wife to be carried may be your own, or the neighbor's, or you may have found her further afield; she must, however, be over 17 years of age.
- The minimum weight of the wife to be carried is 49 kilograms. If she weighs less than 49 kg, she will be burdened with a rucksack containing additional weight to bring the total load to be carried up to 49 kg.
- All participants must enjoy themselves.
- The only equipment allowed is a belt worn by the carrier and a helmet worn by the carried.
- The contestants run the race two at a time, so each heat is a contest in itself.
- Each contestant takes care of his/her safety and, if deemed necessary, insurance.
- The contestants have to pay attention to the instructions given by the organizers of the competition.
- There is only one category in the World Championships, and the winner is the couple who completes the course in the shortest time.
- Also, the most entertaining couple, the best costume, and the strongest carrier will be awarded a special prize.
While the International rules are the basis for all competitions, rules and prizes do vary for each competition.
- 2017 – Taisto Miettinen (Finland) and Kristiina Haapanen (Finland), 68 seconds.
- 2016 – Dimitriy Sagal (Russia) and Anastasia Loginova (Russia).
- 2015 – Ville Parviainen (Finland) and Sari Viljanen (Finland).
- 2014 – Ville Parviainen (Finland) and Janette Oksman (Finland).
- 2013 – Taisto Miettinen (Finland) and Kristiina Haapanen (Finland).
- 2012 – Taisto Miettinen (Finland) and Kristiina Haapanen (Finland).
- 2011 – Taisto Miettinen (Finland) and Kristiina Haapanen (Finland).
- 2010 – Taisto Miettinen (Finland) and Kristiina Haapanen (Finland).
- 2009 – Taisto Miettinen (Finland) and Kristiina Haapanen (Finland).
- 2008 – Alar Voogla (Estonia) and Kirsti Viltrop (Estonia).
- 2007 – Madis Uusorg (Estonia) and Inga Klauso (Estonia), 61.7 seconds.
- 2006 – Margo Uusorg (Estonia) and Sandra Kullas (Estonia), 56.9 seconds.
- 2005 – Margo Uusorg (Estonia) and Egle Soll (Estonia), 59 seconds.
- 2004 – Madis Uusorg (Estonia) and Inga Klauso (Estonia), 65.3 seconds.
- 2003 – Margo Uusorg (Estonia) and Egle Soll (Estonia), 60.7 seconds.
- 2002 – Meelis Tammre (Estonia) and Anne Zillberberg (Estonia), 63.8 seconds.
- 2001 – Margo Uusorg (Estonia) and Birgit Ullrich (Estonia), 55.6 seconds.
- 2000 – Margo Uusorg (Estonia) and Birgit Ullrich (Estonia), 55.5 seconds (world record).
- 1999 – Imre Ambos (Estonia) and Annela Ojaste (Estonia), 64.5 seconds.
- 1998 – Imre Ambos (Estonia) and Annela Ojaste (Estonia), 69.2 seconds.
- 1997 – Mikkel Christensen (Finland) and Tiina Jussila (Finland), 65 seconds.
Australian Wife Carrying Championships are held annually since 2005.
- 2016 - Australian Champions: Adrian and Amanda Betts
- 2013 - South Bank, Brisbane
- 2008 - in Singleton, NSW
- 2007 - Australian Champions: Anthony Partridge and Angela Moore
The US final takes place the second weekend of July in Menahga Minnesota (MN-St. Urho Wife Carry for Charity Challenge). Major wife-carrying competitions are also held in Monona, Wisconsin, Minocqua, Wisconsin and Marquette, Michigan.
Ecorun India, a society for creating environmental awareness organized Wife Carrying Race in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, Asia on January 1, 2011. The event is called "BHAARYAASAMETHAM" roughly translated as 'with your wife' in Malayalam, the local language. The society plans on conducting more such events every year in India. Wife carrying in Asia is also called matukinina.
- North American champions Ehrin and April Armstrong were featured as guests on a first season episode of GSN's revival of I've Got a Secret.
- BBC Presenters Mike Bushell and Steph McGovern reversed the roles when they took part in the UK annual wife-carrying competition in 2013, she carried him. The male presenter claimed this was a first.
- Margo Uusorg and Sandra Kullas hold the world record time for this competition, finishing the 253.5-meter course in 56.9 seconds in 2006.
- English, Nick (16 November 2016). "Wife Carrying Is the Latest Strength Sport for Couples". BarBend. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
- The Strange Sport of Wife Carrying | bettor.com[dead link]
- Wife Carrying World Championship
- Maine couple wins North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River Ski Resort
- The Daily Telegraph, 10 July 2013, Finland hosts annual wife-carrying world championships, retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "Wife-carrying team defends title". Melbourne: The Age. 2011-07-03. Retrieved 2011-07-03.
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- "Wives in Finland worth their weight in beer". Canada.com. 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
- "Estonia dominates wife-carrying championships". ABC News. 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2010-07-05.[dead link]
- "Estonians reign at wife-carrying championships". ABC News Online. Reuters. 2006-07-02. Retrieved 2010-07-11.[dead link]
- "Estonians snatch world wife-carrying title again". ABC News Online. Reuters. 2005-07-03. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "Estonian carries 'wife' to glory". BBC News. 2004-07-04. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "Estonians romp home in wife-carrying contest". Cape Times. 2003-07-07. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- Vinha, Laura (2001-07-14). "Estonians on top in wife-carrying race". Independent Online. Retrieved 2010-07-11.[dead link]
- "Estonia's clean sweep at wife-carrying". BBC News. 2000-07-02. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- Huuhtanen, Matti (1998-07-04). "Estonians take double victory in international wife carrying contest". Highbeam.com. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "Finn carries the day - and his wife - in unique race". Philadelphia Inquirer. 1997-07-06. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- triplem.com.au http://www.triplem.com.au/brisbane/win/grill-team-wife-carrying-championships-2013/. Retrieved 18 January 2013. Missing or empty
- "Wife carrying makes its mark in Australia". news.com.au. News Limited. April 11, 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- "BBC pair swap roles for 'wife carrying' race". News UK. BBC. 2013-03-30. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
- Glenday, Craig. Guinness World Records 2014. p. 220. ISBN 9781908843159.
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