The unique world of wife carrying

Carry on. Mark Robinson

A different way to look at quality bonding

Hide your sisters, daughters, but not your wives, it is time for the wife carrying competition to begin! It is time to bond with your wife through the preparation and competition process of such an intense process. Of course we have the wonderful country of Finland to thank for this entertaining sport which has found its way all over the globe.

As all of the best sports start, this one started out as a complete joke. As men sat around enjoying a good drink and reminiscing about the good old days, as many of us do, they could not help themselves but discuss an old courtship ritual. Supposedly men who were looking at courting a woman would go, run into the village that the respected woman lived, physically pick them up and carry them off. If they were successful in these efforts then they had successfully declared the woman as theirs. This old ritual met an old military selection process, which does not sound like a terrifying combination at all. Troops used to be selected based on their abilities to complete a challenging track that was supposed to prove their worth as a soldier. Now we have the best of both worlds: obstacle running and gracious wives.

If you have not already pictured the event, men carry their wives as they attempt to maneuver through an obstacle course. This sounds like it would be easy, but you could not be more wrong in making that assumption. The distance of the course is incredibly long as the official track length is 253.5 meters (277 yards) in total. If you think that doesn’t sound too bad, you also have to deal with different terrain as it consists of two dry land sections and one aquatic section. It is super important that you can do more than just carry your wife, you need to be able to maneuver around with her without dropping her! You then run the track in a head-to-head style to ensure that there are not too many people on the course at one time. The winner will then be the couple that finishes the track in the shortest amount of time.

You may be thinking that such a simple sport would have very few rules and regulations to keep track of; you would be wrong. Even though it is called wife carrying, the woman you choose to carry does not legally have to be married to you. They are required to be a female that is at least 17 years old. As well, the woman needs to be a minimum of 108 pounds (49 kilograms). Of course though they do not expect the wife to gain weight for the competition, if you are under the required weight they attach a rucksack to you that will make up the additional weight needed to compete. The only equipment that is required is a helmet for the woman being carried and possibly a lifting belt for the man doing the carrying. Finally, everyone’s favourite rule: how you determine the quantity of what the winning team collects. Besides bragging rights and a trophy, you also get your wives weight worth of beer! The dilemma that this causes for many is; do you pick a smaller woman so you can run faster or do you pick a larger woman so you get more beer when you win? As far as dilemmas go, I don’t think anyone thought they would ever have to worry about that.

Now that your attention has been piqued you are going to want to know how you can prepare yourself for such a high-stakes competition. First you need to decide the most effective way to carry your partner. This may involve some trial and error as you figure out which position allows you maximum speed without completely destroying your partner in the process. Typically there are four ways that the majority of people carry their partner: piggyback, thrown over the shoulder, the wife dangling upside down their partners back and across both shoulders. These are the recommended positions; however, you are not required to use any of them and may choose whichever style you like. What you wear is also key to your success, so to reward your wife for forcefully carrying her around she can go shopping for matching outfits. It is important to keep in mind that these outfits should consist of clothing that will not be easily ripped off or caught on anything while you go barreling down a track like a freight train with its brakes cut. Finally you should practise on all kinds of terrain to prepare yourself for what you will face throughout this competition. The two dry terrains and one aquatic consist of sand, forest, a water obstacle and two log hurdles. Now the helmet makes sense. 

However you do it and for whatever the reason, it is important to keep in mind that this is a special bonding time that you can have with your significant other. The training process, competition and drinking, whether it is celebratory or not, that happens afterwards is something that you will be able to do together. If you are looking for a new activity to feed your competitive side and strengthen your relationship, wife carrying is the sport for you.

Sarah Nakonechny

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