When: 8th March 2015
Where: The Nower, Dorking, Surrey
£: Entry costs from £28 (competitors must be aged 18 years or over)
What is it?
The UK Wife Carrying Race takes place in Dorking, Surrey, on 8th March 2015. The annual event taken place in Surrey since 2008, even though the first race only attracted three competitors. Since then the event has grown in popularity and usually has up to 23 couples taking part.
Unlike the Finnish World Championships, where pairs of carriers run against each other, the UK Wife Carrying Race sees all the couples run against each other in one wild mix of flailing arms and legs. The course for the UK race is not flat, so the carriers have to tote their ‘wives’ uphill to the half way point, before running back downhill to the finish line. To make it even more challenging, hay bales are used to provide hurdles on both the outward and return legs and there is a ready supply of volunteers with water pistols and buckets of water to soak the competitors as they near the finish.
The UK Wife Carrying Race has now seen all combinations of competitors: men carrying women, a man carrying a man and a woman carrying a woman. In 2013 the race welcomed a woman carrying a man for the first time, as the BBC’s Stephanie McGovern carried Mike Bushell around the course.
There are various different carrying styles which competitors can use in the UK Wife Carrying Race. The piggyback (popular, but tiring and not very fast), the bridle carrying (almost impossible to keep up for long), the fireman (across the shoulders), and the shoulder ride (precarious but surprisingly swift). Finally, there is the Estonian hold, where the ‘wife’ hangs upside down on the man’s back with her legs over his shoulders. This is now the most popular hold used in the competition, as it is swift and relatively comfortable for both the carrier and the ‘wife’.
In 2013, Steven Forster became the first wife carrier to complete the race using the ‘Dorking hold’. This is effectively a reversed Estonian hold, also known as Wife Carrying position No. 69, winning himself and his wife a special bounty of £100 in the process.
The UK Wife Carrying Race is staged as part of the warm-up for a popular local half marathon, the Leith Hill Half Marathon, ensuring that there is a very good turnout of spectators. Some of the wife carriers – and their ‘wives’ – do the wife carrying race and then run the half marathon. Last placed competitors in the UK Wife Carrying Race win a consolatory tin of dog food and a Pot Noodle. All carriers win beer from the local Pilgrim Brewery and all competitors are presented with special UK Wife Carrying Race t-shirts.
More info: www.wifecarryingrace.com