The Wife Carrying Race

The Nower, Dorking


Congratulations on your successful entry into the 16th UK Wife Carrying Race on Sunday 17 March 2024 at 10.30am - named Britain's top adventure race in 2011.

#ukwifecarryingrace for any tweets please!

These are your race instructions - you will not receive anything in the post.

Remember, Wife Carrying is a potentially dangerous activity, which could result in injury and/or death. You take part in the race at your own risk!

If you can't take part, please email me at to let me know (I'm always interested to know why as well - in a previous year we had two wives who had become pregnant by the day of the race).

The race will take place on the Nower, in Dorking, but the race HQ is at The Priory School, West Bank, Dorking, Surrey RH4 3DG. It is a three minute walk to the race start from the HQ. Park at the school.

Firstly, park up and make your way to the registration area. There you will be able to pick up your race shirt (carriers and wives both - in the sizes you requested during registration) and your race numbers. Carriers, when you fix your race numbers to your shirt, please don't obscure the lovely race logo of a British heart rising from behind the mountains. For 'spouses' please pin it upside-down on your back if you are being carried in the Estonian Hold.

We ask all competitors to wear their t-shirts during the race.

The race weigh-in will be at the HQ starting at 9.30. All 'wives' must weigh at least 50kg (7st, 12lbs). If you don't weigh 50kg, bring something (rucksack full of bags of sugar or flour for example) to bring you up to the minimum weight. Those under 50kg at the weigh-in may be re-weighed on the start line and at the end of the race. All 'wives' must be over 18.

All of those being carried must wear a helmet. No helmet, no race! You must supply your own helmet - and it must fit and be snug!

We have around 25 entrants this year, including entrants from all around the UK - and a pair coming all the way from Australia to compete in the race!

NO DRUGS - DON'T BE A NOB ! There's a lifetime ban for anyone using drugs in the UK Wife Carrying Race, however we find out.

No cheating - aggressive use of elbows to block overtaking will be punished, potentially with disqualification.

Carriers MUST wear shoes with proper grip - preferably trail shoes or fell-running shoes - in order to avoid slips and falls. Football boots are allowed. Short (not more than 6mm) spikes are allowed. Shoes with no grip, such as flat-soled shoes, deck shoes or plimsoles, are NOT allowed - you will not be allowed to run! Your shoes will be carefully checked at the weigh-in.

Anyone using the Dorking Hold (the reverse Estonian hold), also known as wife carrying position No. 69, will inevitably gain the limelight, if not any extra speed.

The race will start at 10.30. There will be hay-bay hurdles, which you are required to pass over in both directions, and on the way back there will be the water hazard - buckets of cold water and water pistols. Do not change course or decelerate through the water-hazard - it may be slippery.

If you drop the 'wife' you must both take three steps backwards before remounting. 

Tips - The 380m-total course is 15m uphill to half way (steepening) and back down to the finish. A belt or harness on the carrier may give the 'wife' something to grip on to. The Estonian Hold is generally the fastest, but the shoulder-ride could also be effective. Do practice before the race if you can. The race takes from 2 minutes (winners) to 5 minutes (last-placers) so it will be over in a flash! Keep smiling!

It is incredibly exhausing - my heart rate went from 100 at the start to 180 maximum at the turnaround point.

At the finish, please form a finishing funnel beyond the finish line for all subsequent finishers to pass down and be clapped and back-slapped by you all.

We will have a small awards ceremony at the end of the race. All finishers receive a vessel of Greensand Ale from the Surrey Hills Brewery, while the winners receive a voucher for a barrel of ale (and the first British finishers £250 towards their costs if they participate in the World Wife Carrying Championships in Finland in the summer, payable on receipt of flight ticket receipts and a short Championships write-up and photos!). Last-placed finishers receive the ceremonial tin of dog food and a Pot Noodle. There is a pot of Bovril and a tin of pilchards (you know, from before the War) for the oldest carrier who completes the course. There will be a special prize of a pound of sausages for the carrier of the heaviest wife - who completes the course - for strength. Honour and fame be upon them. There is also a prize for best leggings (either carrier or spouse).

Remember to smile… there will be TV crews and plenty of press photographers, so this is your moment in the world spotlight! There will be a moment at the end of the prize giving if anyone has anything 'important' to say...

If you win (it is very competitive at the front), be prepared to go to Finland to compete (our British winners have acheived a second and a third place in the World Championships, and Vytautas and Neringa from Lithuania, who won in Dorking in 2023 are now two-time world champions), and also to be deluged with media requests.

There will be a mini-race over the course at 11.10 (after the half marathon has gone) for any youngsters - no need to register, just turn up and away you go. Youngsters compete at their own risk.

If you have any questions, you may find the answers on the Frequently Asked Questions page…

See you on Sunday 17 March and have a great race!


Rob - UK Wife Carrying Race organiser.