When: 8th April 2018, race begins at 10.30am
Where: The Nower, Dorking, Surrey
£: Entry costs £50. Competitors must be aged 18 years or over
What is it?
The 11th UK Wife Carrying Race will take place in Dorking, Surrey, on Sunday 8th April.
The annual event has taken place in Surrey since 2008. The first race attracted just three competitors, but since then the event has grown in popularity, and now has about 50 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 a ready supply of volunteers wait with water pistols and buckets of water, to soak the competitors as they near the finish. Spectators are encouraged to bring their own water pistols, to help out in the ‘splash zone’.
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.
This year, all finishers will receive a mini-keg of beer from the local Pilgrim Brewery, along with a medal and t-shirt; whilst the winners will receive a whole barrel of ale and a cash prize. Last placed competitors in the UK Wife Carrying Race will win a consolatory tin of dog food and a Pot Noodle, and the carrier of the heaviest ‘wife’ will receive a pound of sausages!
More info: www.wifecarryingrace.com