The sporting events are coming thick and fast at the moment, but there’s one competition kicking off this week that may have passed you by.

This Friday sees the start of Eukonkanto championships, or to give them their English name, the wife-carrying championships.

Held in the village of Sonkajärvi, Finland, each year, the wife-carrying championships have earned themselves a worldwide reputation.

The rules of the sport are pretty much as you’d expect: each competitor carries a female – in the best way they can – across an obstacle course. The winner is the one who can carry his “wife” across the course in the fastest possible time.

It’s worth mentioning that the female competitor doesn’t have to be the male competitor’s wife, as long as they don’t mind being carried over different terrains, obstacles or through water.

The race is certainly a light-hearted affair, with one of the rules stipulating that “all participants must have fun”. But the event has its roots in local tradition and history dating back more than 100 years.

The sport of wife-carrying is thought to date back to the late 19th Century, when an outlaw and his gang of thieves were accused of stealing women from villages by carrying them into the forest on their backs.

These days the women are more consensual, and the wife-carrying championships have been growing in popularity since being established in 1992.

With the world championships, as well as the team competition, being held this Saturday, the excitement in Sonkajärvi is starting to build.

While the focus will undoubtedly be the races, there is plenty more to this two-day sporting event. Karaoke competitions, live music and plenty of dancing all form an important part of the championships.

Wife carriers from Estonia dominated the championships for years, but the past three years have seen a Finnish couple take first place. So this year, competition could be a little more serious than usual.

(Images: Hannu Keränen)

About the author

Oonagh ShielContent Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!

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