Wife Carrying (Finnish akankanto or eukonkanto, Estonian naisekandmine) is a sport of carrying women. Teams are comprised of a male and female competitor, however the female does not need to be the legal wife of the male. Teams also have the option to have the male carried by the female if they so choose.
Carrying methods often include the piggy back or firemen's carry, but teams are encouraged to create their own style. Experienced teams and all winners to date employ the more advanced Estonian carry, which has the woman upside down with arms wrapped around the man's waist and her legs draped over his shoulders. This frees the man's arms for balance and negotiating the obstacles. The team loses points if the "wife" is dropped.
The 278-yard course is built on the lower slopes of Sunday River Ski Resort. The first leg of the course is a gentle uphill run over a wide dirt and sand-covered path. A sharp left-hand turn then leads competitors into the first major obstable on the course, a water trough approximately three feet deep and 20 feet in length. Exiting the water, the course turns back toward the starting area and into a fast downhill run on grass. This final stretch include two log hurdles which must be negotiated before the final sprint to the finish.
The origin of the competition is based in Finnish history. A notorious 19th century character, Rankainen the Robber, imposed strong physical standards on men he considered for his band. To qualify, the men had to complete a difficult course with a heavy sack on their backs. It was also not uncommon for men to steal women from neighboring villages. The concept is a little archaic - but the modernized wife carrying event is all in fun, and in reality, is a true test of physical strength and agility.
(Content courtesy of Wikipedia.)
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