The North American Wife Carrying Championships took place at Sunday River, Maine on October 6th. Yes, this very strange event is very real.
According to WifeCarrying.org this odd tradition dates back to 19th century Finland. A famous Finnish outlaw named Ronkainen the Robber and his gang would steal women from neighboring villages and carry them out of town.
“The first modern day wife carrying event was held in Finland in 1992 and foreign contestants were admitted in 1995. This event is now held annually in Sonkajärvi, Finland as the World Championship. A North American Championship was started in 1999.”
Yes, pretty dark. According to legend, Ronkainen would require potential recruits to carry heavy sacks on their back to prepare them for such abductions. Despite that dark history, the event is consistently hilarious. Sunday River has hosted the North American Wife Carrying Championships since 1999 and based on the video from the 2018 event, there were a surprising amount of spectators. What do you think? Will you and your old lady head to Maine for the 2019 event?
North American Rules & Regulations:
The North American rules and regulations for wife carrying vary slightly from the World Championship rules on several points. The list below is the official set of rules and regulations for the North American Championship and are followed by most state and regional qualifying events.
- Teammates are not required to be legally married
- Helmets are not required for the carried competitor. (The Worlds requires a helmet.)
- The only special equipment allowed to be worn by the carrier is a belt, which is optional.
- There is no minimum weight limit for the female competitor. (The Worlds set a weight limit of 49 kilograms / 108 pounds, and weight belts are used to make up any difference in weight.)
The Race —
- Competitors run the course two at a time in initial heats, with each team being timed. The two fastest teams qualify for a final heat, which may be timed or untimed, with the winner of the final heat being the winner of the event. Because the final heat is determined by time, qualifying teams do not necessarily have to win their initial heat. Additional heats may be run for third place, and on.
- If a competitor drops his teammate, their team will be penalized with five seconds added to their time.
- Teams may not advance on the course without the wife being carried, and will be disqualified if they do not carry their wife the entire length of the course.
- There is no restriction on how the female teammate is carried. Several types of carry are commonly used including the Piggyback and Fireman’s Carry (over the shoulder). However, the most popular is the Estonian Carry in which the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around the husband’s shoulders, holding onto his waist.
The Course —
- Length of course is 254 meters / 278 yards. North American courses are typically run on uneven ground with some level of elevation change. The Worlds are run on a flat track.
- Course design includes two dry obstacles and one water obstacle, however the specific obstacle designs may vary by year.
Sign up here: North American Wife Carrying Championships