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Finnish Couple Wins Wife Carrying World Championship

Image: Winning couple Ville Parviainen and Janette Oksman of Finland participate in the annual Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajaervi, Finland
Winning couple Ville Parviainen and Janette Oksman of Finland participate in the annual Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajaervi, Finland, on July 5. MARKKU OJALA / EPA

HELSINKI — A Finnish couple has narrowly won the 19th Wife Carrying World Championships — a quirky competition in which men race to be the fastest while carrying a female teammate.

Ville Parviainen and Janette Oksman cleared the grueling 253.5 meter (278-yard) obstacle course in 63.75 seconds on Saturday, less than a second ahead of Britain's Rich Blake Smith and Anna Marguerite Smith.

Thirty-six couples from a dozen countries including Australia, Japan, and the United States took part in the race, which was held in the central Finnish municipality of Sonkajarvi, north of the capital, Helsinki.

Image: Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajaervi, Finland
Second placed Rich and Anna Marguerite Smith of Great Britain, front, participate in the annual Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajaervi, Finland, on July 5. MARKKU OJALA / EPA

The rules stipulate that the woman must be over 17 years of age and weigh at least 108 pounds. In years past, the winner's were rewarded with their wife's weight in beer.

Despite the event's name couples don't have to be married, and organizers say male contestants could "borrow a neighbor's wife" if they didn't have a female companion.

The men can carry their teammate in various ways, though a popular method is for the woman to hang upside-down with her legs around the male contestant's shoulders.

Finland has established itself as a prime venue for unusual events including international air guitar, swamp soccer and mobile phone throwing competitions.

-- The Associated Press