North American Wife Carrying Championship« All Events October 8, 2016
1st Place: Elliot and Giana Storey, Team Storey (Westbrook, Maine)
2nd Place: Kirsten and Jake Barney, Team Blue Ridge (Lexington, Virginia)
3rd Place: Mike Kress and Anna-Lena Schneider, Team Germanicans (Portland, Maine)
The 17th Annual North American Wife Carrying Championship® kicked off at 11AM on Saturday, October 8 during our annual Fall Festival weekend. The competition drew thousands of spectators to the grass-covered slopes of Sunday River each year and receives worldwide 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.
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 of 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 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. Watch our How To video to really get the hang of it.
The winning couple takes home the wife's weight in Goose Island Oktoberfest beer, five times her weight in cash, and an entry into the World Championship, which takes place in Finland the following summer.
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:
- Midwest Wife Carrying Championships, June 25, 2016
- Wisconsin Wife Carrying Championships, July 4, 2016
- Wyoming Wife Carrying Championship, July 4, 2016
- Northeast Regional Wife Carry Competition, September 10, 2016
- Kansas City Wife Carrying Championships, October 22, 2016
- Las Vegas Wife Carrying, TBA
For media inquiries, photos, and videos of past events, and press access, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. North American Wife Carrying Championship is a trademark of Sunday River Skiway Corporation.