In the small sliver of the Venn Diagram where matriony meets muscle power, this Saturday, Sunday River will host the 11th annual North American Wife Carrying Championship.
Couples race down a 300-yard course filled with water obstacles and hurdles. The grand prize? The wife's weight in beer and five times the wife's weight in cash. Fastest team wins, but technique plays a part, too: teams get a time penalty every time the wife gets dropped.
Competition for the championships ranges from locals looking for a laugh (the wife and husband don’t necessarily need to be married, and they wife can carry the husband.) to verging-on-maniacal fitness buffs. “Last year we had a couple from California, he was the Guinness book of records world’s fittest man, but a couple from Maine beat them,” says Darcy Morse, Sunday River’s director of communications.
This year, another couple, Gorham, Maine-based gym owners Jesse and Stacy Coleman, have already thrown down the gauntlet and are claiming that they’re going to take the title, they even have a website dedicated to tracking their training: my-fit-family.com.
50 couples are allowed compete in the race. They’re released down the obstacle-filled course two at a time, then the top two go head to head. “It qualifies them to go on to the world championships in Finland,” Morse says.
Historically, practicing and technique have paid off. “You see other forms, but the champions always use the upside down, backward, legs up, Estonian carry,” Morse says.
Check out video from last year’s event: