Finland takes first place at wife-carrying championship

Finland for the second year in a row took first place at the annual Wife-Carrying World Championships held in the central Finnish town of Sonkajaervi, organisers said Saturday.

Taisto Miettinen, who was defending his champion title, raced through a 250-metre (273-yard) course with two hurdles and a pool in just over one minute four seconds, carrying Kristiina Haapanen on his back.

The winners beat Estonia's Alar Voogla and Kristi Viltrop, who also took silver last year, by 0.4 seconds.

The 45-year-old Miettinen, a commercial lawyer by day, attended the competition for 10 years before grabbing gold - and putting an end to Estonia's 11-year reign - last year.

He told AFP by phone he did not beat his 2009 score of 62 seconds because of a bigger pool.

"I love competing and I love winning. We practiced a lot, but the race was not as easy as last year because the pool was bigger," said the winner, who excels at a number of other sports.

He added the best way for a racer to carry the "wife" - in his case, a friend he has been racing with for four years - was "Estonian style".

"That means (for the racer) to dangle her upside down over his back."

Finland also won the third place bronze with the team of Ilpo Haalisto and Satu Juurinen.

Sonkajaervi village, located some 490 kilometres (302 miles) north of Helsinki, has in the past 15 years made its entertaining wife-carrying competition known around the world.

This year, 51 teams from 13 countries including Australia, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates competed in front of a crowd of 4,000.

The race was inspired by the legend of a local thug, Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen, who lived in a forest in the late 1800s and is said to have snatched food and sometimes ladies from villages in the region.

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