UK wife-carrying contest takes place in Dorking

  • Published
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UK wife-carrying champion crowned in Dorking

Couples from across the world braved swamps and bogs on a treacherous course in the 11th UK Wife Carrying Race.

Chris Hepworth, carrying Tanisha Prince, of West Drayton, London, raced to victory in the contest over a 1250ft (380m) obstacle course in Surrey.

Organisers suggested the activity of wife-carrying began in June 793 AD.

They said Vikings carried "wenches" in a practice that lasted for 300 years and was reborn after 900 years - and some people took it "very seriously".

Competitors faced a 49ft (15m) ascent and descent on the course, described as "very tough" by organisers.

Information for competitors said: "You do not have to be married (to each other, anyway) but it certainly helps if you are at least friends."

Image source, PA
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The race covers a 380m obstacle course with an ascent and a descent
Image source, PA
Image caption,
Chris Hepworth, carrying Tanisha Prince, raced to victory

Under the rules, all "wives" - who can be male or female over the age of 18 - had to weigh at least 50kg and there were penalties for dropping the "wife".

Any underweight candidates had a rucksack of tinned baked beans to add to the load.

Winner Mr Hepworth said he was "surprised and chuffed" and his "wife" Ms Prince said for her the uphill climb was easier than going downhill.

They will go on to compete in the world contest in Finland in July.

"Maybe we can be the ones to win it," Mr Hepworth said.

Image source, PA
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The event was sold out, with up to 50 people taking part

Organisers warned of the serious injuries participants risked, saying: "Wife carrying can be a dangerous activity, which can lead to any one or more of the following injuries: slipped disk, broken legs and arms, spinal damage, facial injury, skull fracture, hernias, and other sundry injuries and illnesses, and potentially including death.

"But please don't let this put you off!"

Ben and Hannah Brackenbury entered the contest to mark their first wedding anniversary.

Spa or swamp?

Mrs Brackenbury said: "It's got to be done."

Her husband said: "I was away for the weekend. I got a message saying am I free on that day.

"I thought she'd booked us in for a spa or something. Next thing I get home and she says I've entered us into the UK wife-carrying competition."

The couple said they practised in the garden and in the rain, and tried some jumps in preparation for getting over hay bales.

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Ben and Hannah Brackenbury entered the contest to mark their first wedding anniversary
Image source, PA
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Several holds were recognised in the contest

The winner received a barrel of local ale while last place was awarded the "ceremonial" Pot Noodle and dog food.

Recognised holds included the bridal carry, the piggy back, the shoulder-ride, the fireman's carry and what was dubbed the Estonian hold - where the wife hangs upside down on the husband's back with legs crossed in front of the face.

The Dorking hold was described as the reverse of the Estonian hold.

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The winning couple will go on to compete in Finland
Image source, PA
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The Estonian hold was said to be "very fast" and the Dorking hold "not so fast"
Image source, PA
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The world contest takes place in Finland in July

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