Russian wife-carrier wins international event

Sun Jul 3, 2016 9:15am EDT
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July 2 marked the 21st year of the annual wife carrying world championship which took place 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 which has only 4,600 inhabitants.

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

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 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 honor of which many contestants now take up the challenge with someone else's wife. Organizers estimate some 500 million people view the event on various websites.