Sauna World Championship Perspire, Persevere, Prevail

In a land not known for extremes, the Finns showed the world that they can take the heat by sweeping the awards at its annual sweat-a-thon, the World Sauna Championship.


Helsinki -- Could it have been the home advantage? Finn Timo Kaukonen claimed the title of world champion this weekend in Heinola and secured the honor of world super-sweater at the World Sauna Championships in Finland. The heat-resistant northern European lasted exactly 12 minutes and 26 seconds, beating out his fellow countryman Markku Mustonen by exactly three seconds. Another Finn-on-Finn battle was fought in the women's category, as Leena Kautianen sweat it out for 10 minutes and 31 seconds to defeat Leila Kulin.

The real challenge, according to the event's 71 entrants, was not the high temperatures, but rather the blast of humidity that comes every 30 seconds, when water is poured on the sauna's hot stones.

The competition took place in a sauna with partial glass panelling placed on a theater stage. Temperatures inside the sauna started at 110 degrees Celsius (230 degrees Fahrenheit) and climbed to 130 degrees Celsius (266 degrees Fahrenheit) in the final round. The rules were simple: stay seated and don't wipe your sweat off.

Joining the pro-perspirant Finns were fellow Northern European sauna aficionados from Germany as well as representatives of countries where you don't usually need steam to sweat, including Morocco, Egypt and Australia.

jtw/dpa

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