Sonkajarvi, Finland - Love your wife and want to show the world that you are, literally, ready to support her and carry her no matter which obstacles may stand on your way?
Many felt that way on Saturday (July 7) at Finland's Wife Carrying World Championship Competition in Sonkajarvi. But only one lucky winner took home the coveted liquid trophy of this bizarre context: the weight of the winner's lady in beer.
A Finnish lawyer from the capital Helsinki, Taisto Miettinen, completed the nearly 300 yard track, tackling a pool and several hurdles, with his wife Kristiina Haapanen on his back, in 01.00.22sec. Not a record breaking time, but nothing short of extraordinary either as it was the fourth win for the couple. The world record for the event still stands at 56.9 seconds.
Estonians Marek Zahkna and Merlin Zahkna won the silver roughly 4 seconds after the defending hopefuls.
Many couples from all over the world gathered in the remote Finnish village of Sonkajarvi, in central Finland, to take part in this competition. Some participants were national champions who had qualified through winning national contests in their home countries.
"This year we have negotiated with Peking and Tokio and many other countries so we have already pre-competitions in maybe ten countries, so it's continuing I hope," said Veikko Tervonen, the Chairman of the Wife Carrying World Championships.
While some competitors are nearly professional athletes, others do it just for the fun and show up dressed up in costumes.
They all agree that the competition requires plenty of training.
"In last autumn, I started running in the track, one hundred, two hundred and four hundred meters. I think that it helps that I am now a little bit faster than last year," explained the four-times World Champion Taisto Miettinen.
According to organizers, 8.000 people attended this event and a total of 38 couples ran in the final. The location is set deep in forests and lakes a couple of hours' drive from the Arctic Circle.
The contest is rooted in the legend of Ronkainen the Robber, said in the 19th century to have tested aspiring members of his gang by forcing them to lug sacks of grain or live swine 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.
Wife-carrying is one of a host of bizarre contests that Finns, who can tend towards gloominess in the long winter dark, have devised for the scant months of summer when the sun hardly sets.
It has inspired others to organize events such as sauna sitting, swamp football, cell phone throwing or karaoke singing. All are part of a summer bonanza of events that rake in visitors and cash for as long as the midnight sun shines.
RTV via CBS Newspath