Wife carrying — the sport in which a man races through an obstacle course while carrying his wife — started as a joke in Sonkajrvi, Finland. Enthusiasts claim the sport goes all the way back to the days when it was acceptable to “steal” someone’s wife by carrying her away from the neighboring village, but actually the sport is only 16 years old.
A man must carry the woman — she doesn’t have to be married to him — through an agility course that features water, sand and hurdles. The woman must weigh at least 108 lbs (weights are added to lighter women to make up the difference). Every time the man drops the woman — which happens a lot, so the women wear helmets — he incurs a 15-second penalty. Most wives ride piggyback or “Estonian-style” (hanging upsidedown, with the wife’s arms wrapped around the man’s midsection).
The Wife Carrying World Championships, held every year in Sonkajrvi, also feature a relay event in which the carrier must chug a beer before passing the woman off to the next man. There are also wife carrying tournaments in Australia and the U.S. The North American Wife Carrying Championships take place in a Maine ski resort; the winners go on to compete in Finland. Oh, and the prize for the fastest wife carrier is always the same: the woman’s weight in beer.