Eukonkanto, also known as akankanto, is a sport from Finland in which male competitors race while carrying their female teammates. The goal for each team is to master a special obstacle track in the fastest time. The “wife” can be carried in several ways: piggyback (on the back), fireman’s carry (over the shoulder), or Estonian-style (the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around the husband’s shoulders, holding onto his waist).
Although some people make fun of this sport, competitors see it like any other sport and, therefore, take it very seriously. Every year, the Wife Carrying World Championships take place in Sonkajärvi, Finland. The prize for the winner is determined by the weight of his female teammate and is paid in beer.
The Rules Of Eukonkanto
The following rules are set by the International Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee:
- The length of the official track is 253.5 meters.
- The track has two dry obstacles and a water obstacle about one meter deep.
- The carried wife may be your own or anybody else’s but she definitely has to be over 17 years of age.
- The minimum weight of the wife is 49 kilograms. If she weighs less than 49 kg, she will have to carry a rucksack containing additional weight to bring the total load up to 49 kg.
- All participants must have fun.
- The only equipment allowed is a belt worn by the carrier and a helmet worn by the carried.
- The contestants run the race two at a time, so each heat is a contest in itself.
- Each contestant takes care of his/her safety.
- The winner is the couple who completes the course in the shortest time.
- The most entertaining couple, the best costume, and the strongest carrier will win a special prize.
Who Invented “Wife Carrying”?
Eukonkanto originated in the eastern Finnish town of Sonkajärvi. There are different legends to how this sport evolved. Many of them center around a man called Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen. He was an alleged robber living in a forest in the late 1800s. In one of the most common stories, Rosvo-Ronkainen and his gang of thieves were accused of not only stealing food but also women from the surrounding villages. To keep the women from running away, the thieves carried them on their backs. Some variations even consider that the thieves stole the wives of the men in the villages to make them their own wife.
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Photos by Shehla Z