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Sunday River Resort to Host 14th annual North American Wife Carrying Championship on Saturday, October 12, 2013
Event draws 50 competing couples from afar including former state and world champions
Newry, ME (Summer 2013)—What started as a quirky event to grow media exposure to the Bethel, Maine area, has quickly turned into one of the most sought after events to participate in each year at Sunday River Resort—the North American Wife Carrying Championship.
Scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 12, 2013, at 11 a.m., the North American Wife Carrying Championship is the resort’s most watched event during what is also its annual Fall Festival Weekend.
For this event, 50 pre-registered couples from all over the United States and Canada come to the resort to compete for the championship title and prizes including the wife’s weight in beer and five times her weight in cash.
Pre-qualification is given to the winners of state or regional events; public registration for the remaining spots in the 2013 event opens August 5, 2013.
Last year’s North American Champions were Taisto Miettinen and Kristina Haapanen, a couple from Finland who also happen to be the 2012 World Wife Carrying Champions.
To win the North American Championship, couples are released onto a regulation length 278-yard obstacle course two-at-a-time and race side-by-side.Course length is based on the World Wife Carrying Championship event that takes place in Sonkajärvi, Finland every summer.
The difference between the two courses is that the world event’s course is on a track and Sunday River’s course takes place on a mountainside.
Both events feature obstacles; Sunday River’s course obstacles range from log hurdles and sand traps to a man-made pond also known as the “widow maker.”
After all 50 couples compete, the fastest two times are determined. Those two couples with the fastest times then race against one another for the championship title and prizes.
Based upon Finnish folklore and modern World Wife Carrying Championship rules, couples do not actually have to be married to compete but do have to be comprised of a man and woman. Both participants must also be of legal drinking age.
For this event most couples use the traditional Estonian carry in which the woman’s thighs rest upon the man’s shoulders in an upside-down piggyback fashion. Some couples, however, use a fireman’s carry or an actual piggyback.
To date, all former champions, both at the North American and World events, have used the Estonian carry.
The idea of wife-carrying is Sonkajärvi’s very own. Despite its humorous aspects, the sport has deep roots in Finnish and Estonian history and is based on a brigand named Rosvo-Ronkainen who only accepted men capable of proving their worth and strength. In those days, a common practice was to steal women from the neighbouring villages to and run through a rigorous course.
Today, most women and wives actually volunteer their and their “husband’s” services for the North American Wife Carrying Championship event.
For more information on the event, including video and pictures, please visit the event's webpage.