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Sunday River Resort to Host 18th Annual North American Wife Carrying Championship

Maine event draws 50 competing couples from around the world vying for prizes including wife’s weight in beer and five times her weight in cash

April 24, 2017

Press Release

NEWRY, MAINE (Summer 2017)--What started as a quirky event to grow media exposure to the Western Mountains of Maine has quickly turned into one of the region's most sought-after events for couples--the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River Resort.

Scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 7 of Columbus Day Weekend, the North American Wife Carrying Championship is one of the resort's signature events and part of its annual Fall Festival Weekend.

Fifty pre-registered couples from around the world--some who have qualified through regional wife-carrying competitions--come to the resort to compete for the championship title and prizes, including the wife's weight in beer and five times her weight in cash.

Competitors often include former world, state, and regional champions, as well as off-of-the-couch athletes. Pre-qualification is given to the winners of the world, state, and regional events; public registration for the remaining registration spots opens online August 1 at

Last year's North American Champions were Eliot and Giana Storey of Westbrook, Maine, who went on to compete against Kelly Ripa and Joel McHale on ABC's Live with Kelly. 

Course length is based on the World Wife Carrying Championship that takes place in Sonkajärvi, Finland every July. The difference between the two competitions is the location's respective course. The world event's course is a track; Sunday River's course takes place on a mountainside.

Sunday River's course also boasts obstacles ranging from log hurdles and sand traps, but is most known for its man-made pond referred to as the "widow maker."

The format of the event allows couples to compete for time, with two couples racing at a time. After all 50 couples compete, the fastest two times determine which couples race again for the championship title and prizes.

Most couples use the traditional Estonian carry in which the woman's thighs rest upon the man's shoulders in an upside-down piggyback fashion. Some couples, however, use a fireman's carry or an actual piggyback. To date, all former champions, both at the North American and World events, have used the Estonian carry.

Based on Finnish folklore and modern World Wife Carrying Championship rules, couples do not actually have to be married or even dating to compete, but do have to consist of a man and woman. Both participants must also be of legal drinking age.

The idea of wife-carrying is Sonkajärvi's very own. The sport has deep roots in Finnish and Estonian history and is based on a brigand named Rosvo-Ronkainen who only accepted men capable of proving their worth and strength. In those days, the common practice was to steal women from the neighboring villages to practice and compete with.

For more information on the event, including video and pictures, contact Darcy Lambert at 207-824-5243 or

Sunday River Resort is located minutes from picturesque Bethel Village in Western Maine's Mahoosuc Mountains. A true four-season destination, the resort offers eight interconnected peaks of world-class skiing and snowboarding, and in the summer months, activities including lift-serviced mountain biking, ziplines, and golf at the acclaimed Sunday River Country Club. Sunday River is a member of the Boyne Resorts family of resorts and attractions.