53 couples from 13 countries joined the competition
Fifty-three men slung their wives or partners over their shoulders and hurtled off on an hour-long race in the small Finnish town of Sonkajarvi on Saturday, as thousands of fans cheered from the stands.
The World Wife-Carrying Championship, now in its 23rd year, draws thousands of visitors to the town of 4,200 and has gained followers across the world.
There are official qualifying competitions in countries, including the U.S, the U.K., Sweden and Estonia. On Saturday, 53 couples from 13 countries joined the competition, organisers said. The idea of wife-carrying as a sport was inspired by the 19th century legend of Ronkainen the Robber, who tested aspiring members of his gang by forcing them to carry sacks of grain or live pigs over a similar course.
On Saturday, LithuanianVytautas Kirkliauskas and Neringa Kirkliauskiene won the race which involved running, wading through a slippery pool and getting through an obstacle course. The two defeated six times world champion Taisto Miettinen, a Finn.
“It’s my wife,” Kirkliauskas shouted happily after the race, ”She’s the best.”
The couple first competed in Sonkajarvi in 2005.
Finland, which straddles the Arctic Circle and goes through long, dark winters, is no stranger to strange sports. It has also given the world the world boot throwing, air guitar and mobile phone throwing competitions, to name just a few.
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