The Finnish people are known to come up with weird competitions, but by creating wife-carrying, Finnish “Eukonkanto”, they landed a worldwide success. The 21st world champion in this discipline will be the one who completes the main distance of 253.5 meters (278 yards) faster than any of his components in early July this year.
Inspired by a legend, the idea for a new kind of competition was born more than 20 years ago. The inventors had in mind that men would carry their wives through a set course; the fastest pair wins the prize. Back then they probably did not even begin to believe that the Eukonkanto-enthusiasm would soon awake in many places outside of Finland. Eukonkanto is a sport that everyone can easily participate in. All you need is a little strength and a woman over your shoulders: for the Finns, this is already a guarantee for fun and entertainment.
Read Whole Article ...
|WIFE-CARRYING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2017|
|Time||June 30 - July 01, 2017|
|Registration||Before June 24, 2017|
|Event Site||Eukonkanto Eventpage|
Sonkajaervi is a small, quiet town in the Finnish region of Savo with only about 5000 inhabitants. Still, the village achieved quite some fame because it hosts the annual world championships in wife-carrying. According to the legend there was a robber called Herkko Rosvo-Rinkainen in Sonkajaervi during the 19th century who had a strict rule for all men that wanted to join his band: the task was to kidnap a woman from the neighboring villages and complete an obstacle course with her on the back. Inspired by this story, wife-carrying came to life in later years as an actual athletic competition. Today the women do not have to be kidnapped any longer, they volunteer to enter the run. It is, after all, a lot less exhausting for them because they are being carried by their men who can but do not have to be their husbands. Women who expect this to resemble the carrying over the threshold are wrong because this would simply be unrewarding. In Eukonkanto the runners choose various techniques. Over the past years, however, the Estonian method has become more and more used among the “professionals” for which the woman’s legs are alongside the men’s chest and her upper body alongside his back. For as little as 50 Euros entrance fee, everyone is allowed to participate as long as the rules are obeyed: one of the basic requirements to compete being the open display of joy.
At the world championships competitors start in four categories. There is the senior’s run, a sprint over 100 meters (109 yards) and only one water ditch, as well as the team competition but the focus definitely lies on the main run for pairs. Two men compete against each other and try to overcome the 253.5-meter (278 yards) course consisting of grass-, gravel-, and sand parts as well as two water ditches faster than the opponent. All of that with their partners on the shoulders. It would make sense for the men to simply choose the lightest among the women in their neighborhood for the championships. Far from it, because the rules say that the participating woman must weigh at least 49 kilograms (108 pounds). Accessories are not allowed, except a belt the man wears around his waist for the woman to hold on to or for her to be strapped to his chest and a helmet as means of protection for the lady hanging head first over the guy’s shoulders. Every once in a while, the female participants fall onto the sand, gravel, or on the grass which can lead to injuries, a fact that does not surprise in a sport like Eukonkanto. On the other hand, the back pain is almost a given for the male runners.
Ever since the beginning of the 1990ies the Finnish village has been hosting yearly championships. Due to the fascination, foreign runners were first allowed in the competition in 1995. The starting field has been growing ever since. Those who want to try carrying their partners over rough and smooth do not necessarily have to buy a plane ticket to Finland. Many nations followed and have established their own national championships. Shortly before the turn of the millennium the United States hosted the first competition, finding the fastest wife-carrier has turned into an annual tradition on Columbus Day weekend in Maine ever since. Other places that hold contests are Austria, Germany, India, Estonia, and Australia. A growing number of cheering fans and ambitious runners is also due to an increasing interest by the media.
Prize money is not an incentive, wife-carrying is all about the fun. However, the strongest carrier, the most entertaining couple as well as the best costumes are rewarded. The main prize is reserved for the fastest couple who wins the woman’s weight in beer. For serial winner Taisto Miettinen the brewed gold is secondary, he focuses on the sport. The Finn won the world championships in wife-carrying five times, making him the most successful Finn at world championship and the oldest winner of a title ever.
Equal rights do have their place in sports as well which is why there has been an alternative for all wife-carriers suffering from back pain. Since 2010 there is a husband-dragging contest where women drag their husbands over a wet plastic surface. For all those who are not fascinated by women being carried and men being dragged, a trip to Finland might still be worth its while because in the worldwide center of crazy sports everyone will make a find. Whether it is dirt-soccer, cell phone-throw, the championships in berry-picking or the classical wife-dragging – in Finland athletic weirdness has no boundaries.