Estonians Wife-Carrying Champions for Seventh Year
By Daniel Frykholm
Pics & Video
SONKAJARVI, Finland (Reuters) - Two Estonian students clinched the country's seventh straight wife-carrying world championship on Saturday, winning the "wife's" weight in beer and a sauna.
Using the "Estonian Carry," where the woman clamps her thighs to the sides of the man's face while hanging upside down on his back, Madis Uusorg carried Inga Klauso 830 feet through a pool and over hurdles in just over a minute.
Uusorg, 20, claimed there was no secret to their victory. "I just tried to run and not think about anything," he said.
"Madis is very good at carrying women. I didn't have to do anything," his friend Klauso, 19, said. Contestants to not have to be married.
The race has its roots in local legend, according to which it was common in the late 19th century to steal women from the neighboring villages.
It is also based on the story of Ronkainen the Robber, who made aspiring gang members prove their worth by carrying sacks of rye along a challenging track.
The competition in the remote central Finnish village of Sonkajarvi, which lies deep in forest and a few hours' drive from the Arctic Circle, drew 18 couples from as far away as Canada, England and Ireland, and around 7,000 spectators.
"The only training we've done is run around the hotel room this morning, but at least we'll be the best in Britain," said Ian Walker, a doctor of psychology from Bath.
"(England) lost the football, lost the tennis, so this is all we have now!"