MARQUETTE – Legend has it that back in the 19th century, when men wanted to steal the wives of other men, they literally picked them up and carried them away. While this “club ‘em and drag ‘em” method has since become obsolete, the idea of it has been turned into a competitive sporting event that will be included in Marquette’s Finn Grand Fest activities.
The idea for the wife-carrying contest was first devised by a group of people in Finland a few years ago. It was meant to be a joke, but the idea took off, and now there are wife-carrying contests in Canada, Estonia, the United States, Australia, Germany and elsewhere.
This event has risen to such prominence that there is even a world championship competition, which has been held in Sonkajarvi, Finland, since 1993. At the world championships, a man must carry a woman who is at least 110 pounds a distance of almost three football fields, which includes land and water hazards. The man and woman with the fastest time win.
“Marquette’s race will be shortened a great deal and made easier than the ones they have in Finland. The Finn Grand Fest contest is geared more toward having fun,” said Jerry Maki, Finn Grand Fest’s wife-carrying coordinator. “No weight restrictions have been determined yet, and just like at the world championships, the woman and the man don’t necessarily need to be married.”
The contest is scheduled to be held on Friday, August 12. More than 100 people have already signed up to participate, which is five times the number of people who participated in the 2004 Finland world championships. There are some entrants who do not yet have partners, so the general public is still invited to sign up. Volunteers are also needed. For more information, contact Jerry Maki at 475-4612.