6 Life Lessons From The International Wife-Carrying Competition

Couples should embrace the spirit of fun, even if it means going vertical.

Look at her smiling on the right…. (Author via Expressive Info)

Wife: “Honey, I’m not too heavy am I?”

Me: <covered in sweat, grunting> “Never sweetheart. You’re light as a butterfly.”

Wife: “You prom-prom?!”

Me: <breathing heavily while running> “I promise. Love is never a burden my dear.”

Wife: “Then, hurry up you soft-kneed little wimp! I’m tryin’ to win!! MUSH!”

I stumbled across the international Wife-Carrying Championships and did a double-take. People train and fly in from all over to compete? What?! These men line up like it's a track race, with their wives draped over them in a multitude of goofy angles.

A gun fires and they run like their life depends on it. But why? And what do they win?

After reading about it, I was sure there’d be an internet mob. Instead? It was a bunch of comments from women:

“That looks like so much fun!”

“I want to try! Buying a saddle for my husband!”

The thing that fascinates me most? Wife-carrying is loaded with symbolism and great life lessons.

The annual wife-carrying competition isn’t a joke

I long ago vowed not to become a generic country-club white dude who plays golf and watches football 24–7. If that requires me carrying the woman I love like a beautiful, leaky sandbag, so be it.

Finland’s already hosts the world championships for boot throwing, mobile phone throwing, and, the infamous air guitar championships (which my partner professed a bizarre love for on our first date).

So who better to host the wife-carrying world championships?

The race happens on a 300-meter track. While carrying your special delivery, you’ll be climbing over fences, running down hills, slogging through shallow mud ponds. And fellas, I recommend you don’t dunk her head if you can.

I admire the effort shown on this guy’s face:

Author via wifecarrying.org (creative commons licenses)

That’s commitment in action, folks. I love how she’s doing the upward tilt to keep her hair out of the water.

It’s all in vain though, crowds will throw water on you as you pass and shout jokes but only in good fun (this is a wildly popular spectator event).

The background is medieval

It’s a woman-owned and organized competition. Wife-carrying started in 793 AD after Vikings raided villages on the Island of Lindisfarne off the coast of England. Allegedly, they killed the men and made off with their women, carrying them over their heads. Back then, it was referred to as ‘wife-stealing’ which has, understandably, been rebranded.

Local events are as much a festival, as they are a competition. People race. Then they get together to drink and party.

Want to participate? Here are the rules

  1. You aren’t required to be legally married. (Although most are. Same-sex couples are permitted.)
  2. Helmets are not required for the carried competitor.
  3. The only special equipment allowed by the carrier is a belt (pants were flying off on accident).
  4. There is no minimum weight limit for the female competitor. However, a weight belt will be added if she’s under 108 lbs to make up the difference.

International Championships are hardcore

If you win at the local level, you’ll be invited to the finals in Finland. It starts to resemble a professional CrossFit competition. Both the man and woman are in amazing shape.

This is the reigning champion couple, Vytautas Kirkliauskas and his wife Neringa Kirkliauskiene. They hail from Lithuania.

Image courtesy of Straits Times

They ran the 254-meter course in 1 min 6 seconds. They trained and prepared for this race while both working and raising a toddler.

What do the winners get?

You guessed it — your wife’s weight in free beer. They’re probably thirsty anyways. And, hey, beer has electrolytes, right?

There are also runner-up prizes for the most entertaining couple, best dressed, and strongest carrier.

7 Life Lessons from this competition

  1. Do things together. Even better, compete together, against others. After watching the full video of the competition, it was undeniable — every couple seemed very happy together.
  2. Stay fit and go to the gym as a couple. Then, make sure to hit the showers together. Studies have long proven that couples who sweat together, stay together.
  3. Stay competitive. Competition keeps you alive. It heightens your energy levels and provides motivation.
  4. Have shared goals. Even if it means, holding someone upside down on your back and running several football fields.
  5. Preparation is key. In this case, men, do lots of squats: running with 108 lbs+ will set even Olympic quads on fire. Women, do lots of squats, your butt will be vertical and bouncing for the duration of this race.
  6. Don’t drop your wife.
The reigning champions in action. Via Tegna Media


After explaining this competition, my girlfriend asked me if I’d be willing to compete. And it’s not that she’s heavy, I just looked down at my skinny quads and know I’ll never be able to compete with these hulks.

So I’ll just stick to rooting for her at triathlons. And then stealing her medals.

Quality over quantity. That guy from Quora. Enjoy? Follow for more. https://seanjkernan.substack.com/ Open to gigs www.seanjkernan.com

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