Extreme sport events-the Finnish Sauna World Championship

Are you an eccentric and a lover of awkward sporting events? I present to you some of the most curious sports in Finland, such as the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championship, the Air Guitar World Championships or the Wife Carrying World Championships. But the most exhausting and complex challenge is, without a doubt, the Sauna World Championship.

This competition is held every year in August, 80 miles away from Helsinki, in a town called Heinola.

Contestants are placed in a wide- windowed hexagonal spruce sauna, at a temperature of 110 degree Celsius, being watched by hundreds of curious people. In order to compete, one has to present a health certificate from a doctor who is declaring that the person is eligible to participate. Moreover, one has to pay a fee and sign a paper, agreeing to wear a bathing suit. I know it’s odd for us, but Finnish people are used to sauna bathe in the nude.

The big challenge of this competition is to remain seated while half-litre of water is poured onto the stove every 30 seconds, filling the sauna room with steam. One has to maintain the elbows on his knees, his arms upright and is allowed only to raise a finger now and then to show that he is all right or clean his face with a towel.  Any drugs or alcohol are forbidden and the last man standing in the room is the one who wins the championship.

This championship dates from 1999 and the first participants were from Finland, Germany, Sweden and Holland. In the year 2000, during the same championship, the first weeding to take place in a sauna was organized and with the years passing the competition became more famous attracting competitors from all around the world. In 2004 there were almost 100 participants and “the living sauna legend” Leo Pusta won his fourth title. The same year the event became televised in Japan.

Even though for some it can seem dangerous and extreme, competitors and organizers both agree that is a safe competition, because there are always people there, looking to ensure the well being of the competitors. Participants are closely supervised in order to identify when someone reached his limit and doctors are assisting during the championship.

So, if you are looking for adventure and you are a sauna lover, you should try this type of pseudo-sport event, even if it is only like a viewer.

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