This year the contest will be organised for the thirteenth time, for the ninth time on the world championship level in Sonkajärvi, Finland.
The idea of the Wife Carrying Competition is Sonkajärvi's very own and, in spite of its humorous aspects, it has deep roots in the local history. In the late 1800's there was in the area a brigand called Rosvo-Ronkainen, who is said to have accepted in this troops only those men who proved their worth on a challenging track. In those days, it was also a common practice to steal women from the neighbouring villages.
The original track winding in the rough terrain with fences, rocks and brooks has been altered to suit modern conditions and the following rules set by the International Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee will apply:
The length of the official track is 253.5 meters, and the surface of the track is partially sand, partially grass and partially gravel
The track has two dry obstacles and a water obstacle, about one meter deep
The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbour's or you may have found her farther afield; she must, however, be over 17 years of age
The minimum weight of the wife to be carried is 49 kilos. If it is less than 49 kilos, the wife will be burdened with such a heavy rucksack that the total weight to be carried is 49 kilos.
All the participants must have fun
If a contestant drops his wife that couple will be fined 15 seconds per drop
The only equipment allowed is a belt worn by the carrier
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 organisers 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
Participation fee is 50 euro
In addition to the product prize the world champions will receive the equivalent of the wife's weight in beer, a bag full of wife carrying products and a statue with wife carrying motif.
The second and the third couple as well as the most entertaining couple, the best costume and the strongest carrier will be awarded with wife carrying products and statues.
Margo Uusorg and Birgit Ulricht from Estonia hold the Wife Carrying world record of 55.5 seconds. The Finnish record of 56,7 seconds is held by Jouni and Tiina Jussila from Raisio.
Along with the wife carrying world championships there is also a team competition. The track is the same but three men in the team carry the wife in turns. At the exchange point the carrier has to drink the official "wife carrying drink" before continuing the race. The team with best costumes will be awarded with wife carrying products and statues.
For the public there will be a cheerleaders' competition. Four to six persons form a group that takes part in the competition but they may have backers of their own with similar humour in the audience. The registration for the competition is done by filling in the participation form in the wife carrying web site.
The competition for the North American championship in the Wife Carrying took place in Betlem U.S.A in September and the 2004 winners are Pete Knelsen and Amanda Richardson from Ontario, Canada. In June there will be qualifying competitions in Georgsmarienhüt, Germany and in Väike-Maarja, Estonia. Also in Australia and South Africa people have been interested in organizing the qualifying competitions.
The Wife Carrying is no doubt the top attraction at the Sonkajärvi County Fair but not the only one. This year the theme of the fair is The Yard and the Garden. There will be qualifying contests for the Wife Carrying Karaoke in early summer and the finals will take place during the Wife Carrying weekend. Lasse Tervonen introduces a new game called bar benji to the public. Women and men compete together in three categories: under 70 kilos, 70 - 100 kilos and over 100 kilos. The winners are known on Saturday. On Sunday the 3rd of July there will a dog group show in the arena.
Sonkajärven Eukonkanto Oy - Wife Carrying Ltd
FIN-74300 Sonkajärvi, Finland
Iisalmi District Tourist Service
FIN-74100 Iisalmi, Finland
Fax +358-(0)17 826760