Two-Time Winners Take Home Cash and Beer Prize in 21st Annual North American Wife Carrying Championship
NEWRY, MAINE (October 9, 2020)—Finishing with a time of 53.85 seconds, North American Wife Carrying Champions Olivia and Jerome Roehm of team Lovebirds from Newark, Delaware, were crowned the winners for a second consecutive year during 21st annual event held at Sunday River Resort.
Team Lovebirds competed against 15 other couples during this year's event, which was modified for COVID-19 safety protocols. All couples raced in single heats against the clock, rather than head-to-head, and winners were selected by the fastest time for their only run on the racecourse, rather than pitting the fastest two couples against one another in a final heat. In addition to the race format modifications that were made to the event this year due to COVID-19, the event was moved from Saturday to Friday, masks were required at all times except when a couple was on the course, and spectating was limited and socially distanced.
Along with bragging rights and entry into the World Wife Carrying Championship in Finland for 2021, the Roehms won Olivia's weight in beers, plus five times her weight in cash, totaling 144 16oz Shipyard Finder New England IPA beers, plus $570. Second place was awarded to Karen May and John Lund of team Hugs, Kisses, and Chicken Stock from Los Angeles, California, with a time of 1.01.75. Lund and May also took home the prize for the combined age over 80 category. Multi-year champions Jesse Wall and Christine Arsenault of team Valhalla If You Hear Me from Oxford, Maine, finished with a time of 1.05.34. The category of combined weight of over 350 pounds was awarded to team Bottoms Up, Liza and Adam Drew of Harrisville, New Hampshire.
Built to international specifications, the North American Wife Carrying Championship course is 278 yards in length, with two log hurdles, and one water obstacle often referred to as the "Widow Maker." Choice of hold is up to each couple, most of whom choose the Estonian Carry where the woman's thighs rest on the man's shoulders in an upside down piggyback. Helmets are not required but often used. The North American race format varies slightly from Finland's World Championship in that there is no minimum weight limit for the wife and the "man and wife" pair must both be 21 years old. There is no requirement for the couple to be married, or for the couple to consist of a man and a woman.
Based on the 19th century Finnish legend, wife-carrying became a sport as a result of men stealing wives from neighboring villages as means to prove their worth and strength to famed henchman, Herkko Ronkainen, also known as Ronkainen the Robber. Men who were able to carry their stolen wives in the wilderness, over stones, stumps, fences and springs, were accepted into Ronkainen's privileged group of thieves.
The event precedes the theatrical premiere of the new Couples of Wife Carrying Movie, a feature-length mockumentary film about Sunday River's competition. The film, which was shot at the 2017 North American Wife Carrying Championship, will debut at Bethel, Maine's Gem Theater on Friday, October 9 at 7PM, and there will be another screening on Saturday, October 10. Couples of Wife Carrying is also available for digital download and streaming.