Wife Carrying as a sporting activity was first played in Finland where it is known as Eukonkanto. Its history is probably based on the 19th century legend of Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen, or ‘Ronkainen the Robber’, whose band of thieves were known for stealing food and women from small Finnish villages. Somehow, the practice of picking up a woman (with her consent) and running off evolved to a sport.
The first modern day wife carrying event was held in Finland in 1992 and foreign contestants were admitted in 1995. This event is now held annually in Sonkajärvi, Finland as the World Championship. A North American Championship was started in 1999.
The International Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee has set a number of official rules, among others:
- The length of the official track is 253,5 meters and surface of the track is sand.
- The winner is the couple who completes the course in the shortest time.
- The track has two dry obstacles and one water obstacle, about a meter deep.
- The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbour’s or you may have found her farther ahead; she must, however, be over 17 years of age.
- The minimum weight of the wife to be carried is 49 kilos. If she weighs less, she will be burdened with such a heavy rucksack to reach the desired minimum weight.
- If a contestant drops the wife, he has to lift her on to his back or in his arms and continue carrying.