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The World's Craziest Contests

Maiju Saari

The Sauna World Championships, Heinola, Finland

The Challenge: Who can sit still the longest? Sounds easy until you learn that the temperature will be 230 degrees. “This is what hell must feel like,” the organizers boast. The contest takes place annually in August.

The Scene: Finland is a land of 5 million people and an estimated 1.7 million saunas, so it’s assumed that Finns are good at taking the heat. The competition involves five rounds for men (over a two-day period) and three rounds for women (to be completed in one day), with a 2.5-hour break between rounds. Challengers must wear bathing suits, maintain good posture, and be able to walk (as opposed to being carried) out of the sauna. A doctor’s note is required for entry.

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