I searched for something a little light-hearted to write about this week. Sometimes all the heavy issues of the day are hard to stomach and it’s much more preferable to look for things that makes us chuckle.
Have you ever heard of the “Wife Carrying World Championship?” In the town of Sonkajärvi in Finland, men jump over logs, leap into mudpits and sprint around a 250-meter obstacle course with their wives over their shoulders. I looked at this online and saw that there is also an “opening ceremony” for the event. Imagine being summoned to give the speech for that ceremony. Standing at the podium, your wife on your shoulder, “Dear sirs, as we leap the logs and hurl our loving matrimonial bond into the mudpit, let us not drop our good ladies on their noggins.”
Another truly bizarre activity you can find on Youtube is known as cheese rolling. Apparently, every May 22 in Gloucester, England, on Cooper’s Hill, a wheel of cheese weighing eight pounds is rolled down the very steep grass hill. And dozens of contestants chase the cheese, though the hill is too steep for them to keep their feet. They roll and flip head over heel. They land on each other and break bones. They have apparently been doing this for hundreds of years. Spain may have the running of the bulls, but England has the running (and flipping) for cheese.
Closer to home in central Kentucky is an event known as the “Great Outhouse Blowout and Race.” OK, “outhouse blowout” — that has real potential. Apparently, teams pay a fee to build their own outhouse then race down a 100-yard stretch. Usain Bolt may be the fastest man on earth in the 100, but is he the fastest man pulling an outhouse in the 100? I don’t think so. While I’ve heard of running to the outhouse, I’ve never heard of running with an outhouse. Gives new meaning to porta-potty.
OK, back to Finland. I guess after the wife carrying, the Finns have to relax in a boiling-hot sauna. Welcome to the “World Sauna Championship” in Heinola, Finland, where men and women see who can sit in a sauna the longest. The starting temperature in the men’s competition is 230 degrees. Every 30 seconds a half liter of water is poured on the stove. And the winner is the last person to walk out without help. Though the Japanese are really into this event, it’s the Finns who dominate. I wonder if this sport’s creator saw a lobster in a boiling pot, and felt, well, jealous.
In Longview, Texas, there’s the “Hands on a Hard Body Contest,” which sounds suspicious, but is actually an endurance test in which people try to keep their hand on a truck longer than anyone else. People stand in the sun and rain with one hand on the body of a new Nissan Frontier truck. The record is 92 hours and 40 minutes. And the winner gets the truck.
Some other strange competitions include the “Interstate Mullet Toss,” which has nothing to do with bad hairdos, the “Milk Carton Derby,” the “Fruitcake Toss,” the “Rock Paper Scissors International World Championships,” the “Cup Stacking Championships,” the “Summer Redneck Games” (right here in Georgia), the “Polar Bear Plunge” and the “Running of the Rodents.”
I guess I’ll just stick with football as my sport of choice. I’m sure my wife would love to soar headfirst with me into a mudpit. But she’d have to carry the World Wife Carrying Championship trophy — and me — home.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.