2010 Sauna Championship.

World champions in sauna in 2009 withstood 18 minutes and 15 seconds in the sauna. More impressive was that the contest organizers poured a about two tall glasses of water on the stove every minute, and this, of course, turned instantly to hot, sweat producing steam.

The reigning male world champion is Finnish, and a Russian girl outlasted the wet heat to grasp top place in last year's final competition.

In late May, the Swedish subsidiary of the Finland-based home articles store, K-rauta, arranged this year's national semi-finals in sauna in Eskilstuna, Sweden, and winners from there are being sent to compete in the world championships in Heinola, Finland. Reflecting a gender separation that is not always the case in ordinary saunas, the contest was divided into male and female categories.

Contestants were also required to wear swim suits, and this stipulation totally violates sauna bathing practices throughout Scandinavia. "I don't think that I could do a minute myself in 110 degrees heat with scalding steam," admitted the retailer's female marketing director.

For more info on the sauna championships, see: www.saunaheinola.com

Here's a humorous piece we published in Nordic Reach by San Francisco based contributor Joshua Davis, who participated in the event but isn't likely to do it again: http://www.nordicreach.com/its_about/lifestyle/100/