NEWRY—About 1,000 people watched as Team Cure Mito from Oxford won the 19th Annual North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River on Saturday morning.
Competing against 34 other couples, Jesse Wall and Christine Arsenault were returning champions of 2014 with a finishing time of 58.72 seconds. Their winnings included 12 cases of beer and five times Arsenault’s weight in cash; $636, and they were also awarded first place in the combined age over 80 category.
In the final round competition, Team Cure Mito went up against first-time competitors Melissa Vigue and Nathan Lewia of Team CrossFit Couple from Wells, who finished the race with a time of 1:04.02.
The second place Team CrossFit Couple chose mostly soda rather than beer for their winnings figured by Vigue’s weight, but with the crowd shouting to add beer to the saw-horse type scale two cases were thrown in for good measure.
Third place was awarded to Russ and Liz Pearce of Team Pearce from Yarmouth, with a time of 1:10.40, they beat out Darryl and Caroline Dickey of Team Dickey from Smyrna, Georgia, with a time of 1:32.57.
During the competition most of the men held their female partners upside down in the Estonian carry with the woman’s thighs resting against the man’s shoulders while they ran or walked as quickly as possible through the 278 yard mountainside course.
As they made their way through the course they hauled their partners up and over two log hurdles, then ran up and down the hillside and through a giant waterhole called the Widowmaker. Many couples had difficulty maintaining their balance through the Widowmaker and once they fell in or lost their footing it was often difficult to get enough traction in the mud to pull themselves out of the hole without losing their partner off of their back.
Once the couple made it through the waterhole they had to race up and over a man-made hill of 3 feet tall before heading to the finish line.
The couple winning the Clydesdale category, which is a couple having a combined weight of 350 pounds, were Elliot and Giana Storey of Westbrook. The Storey’s were the 2016 overall champions and they also placed second overall last year.
The overall winners, Team Cure Mito, is only the third pair in the history of the North American Wife Carrying Championship to win the event for the second time, and they have also competed in the World Wife Carrying Championships in Finland.
The Wife Carrying competition got its start based on a 19th-century Finnish legend where men stole wives from neighboring villages to prove their worth and strength to the famous henchman, Herkko Ronkainen. The men would carry their stolen wives into the wilderness where they made their way through every sort of natural obstacle.