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North American Wife Carrying Championship®

« All Events October 8, 2016

The 17th Annual North American Wife Carrying Championship® kicks off at 11AM on October 8 during Fall Festival. The competition draws thousands of spectators to the grass-covered slopes of Sunday River each fall and receives world-wide media attention as teams compete for fame, fortune, and a chance to compete at the World Championships in Finland the following summer.

Wife Carrying: A History

The legend behind the North American Wife Carrying Championship is based on 19th century Finnish legend "Ronkainen the Robber" who had high qualifications for the men he accepted into his band. To prove their worth,men had to compete through a difficult course with a heavy sack (or woman grabbed from neighboring villages) on their back.Wife Carrying Race

The first modern day wife-carrying event was held in Finland in 1991 and foreign contestants were admitted in 1995. Qualifying events are also held in Australia, Sweden, and Estonia.The North American Wife Carrying Championship was founded in 1999 by Sunday River, which today is the organization that owns the event and serves as the sanctioning body for the United States and Canada to determine the North American winners for the World Championships. Additional information is available on wife-carrying.org

How It Works

The course at Sunday River is built to international specifications at 278 yards in length;with two dry obstacles and one water obstacle.The race format varies slightly from the World Championship in that there is no minimum weight limit for the wife, and the winner is determined by a head-to-head final race rather than being determined only by the finishing time in the competitor's initial round. Additionally, the North American course is run on uneven ground with elevation changes, as compared to the World course, which is predominantly flat. Helmets are not required for the North American Championship.

Wife Carrying Winners 2013 Wife carrying is based on husband-and-wife teams racing with the husband carrying the wife through a regulation length obstacle course featuring log hurdles, sand traps, and the always popular "widow maker" water hazard. The fastest two teams from the qualifying round then compete head-to-head in a final heat. Competing couples do not have to be married, though they must be comprised of a man and a woman and both must be at least 21 years old to enter. How the wife is carried is the competitors' choice, though most use the "Estonian carry" where the female participant holds the male around the waist and tightens her legs around his neck, thereby freeing his hands. 

The winning couple takes home the wife's weight in beer, five times her weight in cash, and an entry into the World Championship, which takes place in Finland the following summer. Congratulations to the 2015 North American Wife Carrying Champions Sam Brakeley and Steph Reighart from Lebanon, NH.

How to Sign Up

Registration for the North American Wife Carrying Championship opens on August 1, 2016. You do not have to pre-qualify in order to race, but past winners from sanctioned events around the country and from the Championship are able to register early and compete for free by emailing events@sundayriver.com before August 1, 2016. Each year, the field includes 50 couples with pre-qualification given to the winners of state or regional events.Wife Carrying Race

On race day, check-in runs from 8:30AM-10:30AM in the Welcome Center at South Ridge Lodge. Course inspection will be allowed from 9:30AM-10:30AM, with the first heat starting at 11AM. Finals take place at approximately 12:30PM with a party to follow! 

Sanctioning an Event

If you are interested in sanctioning a state or regional event to qualifying winners for the North American Championship, please contact our Director of Events and Competitions, Caroline Ochtera

Sanctioned Wife Carrying events throughout North America: 

North American Wife Carrying Championship is a trademark of Sunday River Skiway Corporation. For media inquiries, photos, and videos of past events, and press access, please contact communications@sundayriver.com