Wife Carrying

In July 2004, Sarah and I went on holiday to Finland. Specifically, we travelled to Sonkajarvi, which is about 400km north of Helsinki, to take part in the World Wife Carrying Championships. There, in front of 7000 people, I struggled to lug Sarah 254 metres, through a chest-deep pool of water and over two barriers. It was hard work!

The event was well covered in the media. CNN wrote a nice article that mentions us, and Daniel Frykholm wrote a piece for Reuters that went in papers all over the world, such as The Moscow Times. South African travel writer Rich Shapiro wrote a whole chapter of his next book about us! You can read a draft of it here.

Some people were kind enough to let us have pictures they took on the day. Pictures marked (G) were taken by Cedric Galbe; pictures marked (S) were taken by Rich Shapiro; pictures marked (R) were taken by Jim Ronson. All are copyright.

Waiting for the race to begin. Smiles hide the nerves (S)
Sarah enjoys a pre-race massage from her personal trainer (R)
On the start line. We were racing against a pair of local Finns who looked worryingly fit and slim (R)
I got off the line slightly ahead of our opponents and we were just a second or so behind when we reached the water obstacle on the first bend. However, as I ploughed into the water I slipped on the polythene sheeting and went under. Several confused seconds ensued, with me trying to get back on my feet on a slippery surface with a fully grown woman hanging on my neck! (G)
The Viking helmet had been a last-minute idea to show that we weren't taking things too seriously and knew we were going to get thrashed. Sarah hated it, so it made me laugh a great deal to find that after I'd lost it in the water, it was handed back to Sarah... (G)
...who reached around and put it back on my head! (G)
Leaving the water (S)
Soaking wet, we started down the back straight. Having missed a few breaths underwater, this is where the weight started to kick in and I found running incredibly difficult. (G)
Rounding the last corner, I had to climb over two barriers. I really wanted just to sit down here and rest! (G)
Shamefully, our opponents finished at around this time (S)
I somehow managed to keep going down the final straight(S)
Then, the end in sight, I gave my all towards the finish line! (G)
Crossing the finish line felt wonderful (S)
Almost as great as putting Sarah down...! (G)
Back in Helsinki. Relaxing with (left to right) Johanna (Sonkavarvi native), Anne (with the Canadian team), Cedric Galbe (French photographer living in Helsinki; an all-round good guy), Jim (with the Canadian team), Jenny (Canadian wife), Brandon (who carried Jenny), and some gimp on the end.

Overall, with a time of just under 2 minutes, we came 14th (out of more than 14 couples, before you ask!). The Estonians won, but they always do because they take it too seriously (they had national qualifiers and everything, as did the North American team). Overall we had a great time and I would recommend a visit the the Sonkajarvi festival to anyone.