Wife Carrying
In North America
Wife Carrying originated in Finland, and its history is based around the 19th century legend of Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen, or “Ronkainen the Robber.” There are three stories as to how the sport was created. First, Ronkainen and his thieves were accused of stealing food and women from villages in the area he lived in; then carried these women on their backs as they ran away. Second, it has been said the men would go to villages near their own to steal other men's wives, and then have the woman become their own wife. Third is the story that Ronkainen trained his thieves by carrying big, heavy sacks on their backs, which could have eventually evolved to a sport.

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.
North American Championship

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.

  1. 1) Teammates are not required to be legally married.
  2. 2) Helmets are not required for the carried competitor. (The Worlds requires a helmet.)
  3. 3) The only special equipment allowed to be worn by the carrier is a belt, which is optional.
  4. 4) 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 Course
  1. 1) 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.
  2. 2) Course design includes two dry obstacles and one water obstacle, however the specific obstacle designs may vary by year.
  1. 1) 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.
  2. 2) If a competitor drops his teammate, their team will be penalized with five seconds added to their time.
  3. 3) 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.
  4. 4) 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.
Contacts & Event Sanctioning
Sunday River Resort owns the North American Wife Carrying Championship and serves as the sanctioning body for the sport in the U.S. and Canada. To sanction a wife carrying event in the U.S. or Canada and pre-qualify winners for the North American Championship contact the Sunday River Events team.

For media inquiries regarding the North American Championship including photos and video of past events, and press access for future events contact the Communications team at Sunday River.