Russian wife-carrier wins international event; wins weight of wife in beer

The US national champion Jesse Wall spoke after completing the world championship race, saying it should be taken seriously.

By REUTERS
July 3, 2016 09:52
2 minute read.

Russian wife-carrier wins international event

Russian wife-carrier wins international event

 
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This is the 21st year of the annual wife carrying world championship in Sonkajärvi, central Finland.

This year some 50 couples from 12 countries took part in the race, which is the highlight of the calendar for the small town of Sonkajärvi with 4600 inhabitants.

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The event lasted two days and consisted of a sprint race, a team race and the individual heats on Saturday.

This year Russian couple Dimitriy Sagal and Anastasia Loginova clocked the fastest time (01:02.78) beating five times world champion Finnish couple Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapanen (01:07.07) by 5 seconds.

The 2015 defending champion Ville Parviainen managed third on this demanding track with a time of 01:08.53.

The five times champion Taisto Miettinen, an assistant at the Finnish Parliament in his 50s, explained that this year the track was very demanding.

"This is so hard a track. It's so long that you must be fast, strong and with a good durability, that you can continue and run this whole track. Of course there is difficulties because this so called swimming pool is so slippery and it's quite deep," said Miettinen.

The winning couple take home the coveted liquid trophy: the weight of the winning wife in beer.

Couples from all over the world gathered in this remote Finnish village to take part in the competition. Some participants were national champions who had qualified by winning contests in their home countries.

While some competitors are serious athletes, others do it for fun and compete in fancy dress. All agree that the competition requires plenty of training.

The competition is rooted in the 19th century legend of Ronkainen the Robber, said to have tested aspiring members of his gang by forcing them to carry sacks of grain or live pigs over a similar course. It also purportedly stems from an even earlier tribal practice of wife-stealing, in honour of which many contestants now take up the challenge with someone else's wife.

The US national champion Jesse Wall spoke after completing the world championship race, saying it should be taken seriously.

"I think honestly - and I've run track for a long time, I've done 100m, 200m, 400m - this is way harder than any track event. Athletes should take this more seriously. It's very fun, it's a joke, in some part, you know we joke about it, but it is very hard, one of the hardest things I've ever done," he said.

Organisers estimate some 500 million people view the event on various websites.

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