Face Time: Elliot and Giana Storey — Getting carried away

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Elliot and Giana Storey entered their first wife-carrying competition in 2012.

This past July, they made it to Worlds. The couple came in fourth in a field of 52.

Elliot, who competes in Strongman events, and Giana, an aerobics director, are anxious to defend their North American Wife Carrying Championship title on Oct. 7 at Sunday River and make it back to worlds in Finland next summer.

He’s got some tough — OK, actually pretty nice — words for the competition . . .

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Name: Elliot Storey

Age: 32

Lives: Westbrook

What first made you think, “Now THIS is for us . . .?” We’re both highly competitive, especially in physical competitions. At some point, I saw the North American Wife Carrying Championships on the local news. After Giana and I got together, we had three children back-back-back, so it wasn’t until 2012 that we were able to sign up. I knew the winning times were around one minute, so I thought we stood a good chance and, of course, it was going to be fun.

How did you prep for the very first one? Lots of trial and error with the holds? I remember not having a lot of time after we found out we were selected, maybe two weeks, so our first one was our least amount of prep. In those two weeks though, we prepared as much as possible by saddling up and doing sprints. Our first attempt was pretty terrible, but we learned quickly, and that is 100 percent on Giana and her ability to adapt – it can’t be comfortable up there and she does a great job. I can’t get too much faster in two weeks, but we became far more efficient very quickly.

How’s the Finnish course and event compare to Newry? The main difference is that the Finnish course is flat and the Newry course is at South Ridge at Sunday River, which most readers should know is not just an incline, but an actual mountain. Both courses follow the international standard being 253.5 meters long and having one wet obstacle and two dry obstacles. The Finnish wet obstacle is longer and much deeper than the Sunday River one, and it also occurs at the beginning of the course versus the end. The events are also pretty similar with not just the race, but several other events including live music and fair vendors. Both events are essential promoters of local culture and should be considered must-do for families that are able to attend.

If anyone finds themselves in Finland, they really must: We loved our time in Finland! Unfortunately, we dedicated the majority of our time to the event itself and don’t have many recommendations beyond that. We stayed at the Helsinki airport Hilton upon arrival which is a great hotel, then we drove to Kuopio the next day to find our Airbnb. We didn’t explore Kuopio too much, but thoroughly enjoyed a farmers’ market in the town square, a couple restaurants and noticed a waterfront concert happening, which was cool. The Wife Carrying Contest is in Sonkajarvi which is a little off the beaten path, which limits places to stay, but is definitely worth attending. We had planned to explore Helsinki, but arrived just on time for our departure that afternoon, so basically we did a drive-by. Driving from Kuopio to Helsinki, we stopped at Mikkeli, which also had a great farmers’ market in the town square.

The night before an event, are you loading up on carbs? Practicing? Nervous? Carb-loading really isn’t an issue in a one-minute race. I will eat a good-sized meal, which will include carbs, but the main concern is simply eating something that won’t upset my stomach. I make sure I get a good night’s sleep. I do my best not to get nervous as that misdirects energy needed for the race. As the start time looms the next day, I try to use that energy and not get overwhelmed by it.

Has it been an injury-free sport so far? Any feet to the face? Head knocks on a log? Directly practicing the sport, we had one fall a few years ago that was a big setback to training as we both felt like we got hit by a truck – almost 400 pounds (their combined weight) going pretty fast and hitting the ground. The injury that had the biggest effect on a race, though, was before world’s in July. My very last planned workout before we left for our trip was riding my bicycle up and down Mount Diablo. On the descent, my rear wheel slid out going into a hairpin right-hand corner. Adrenaline took over and I popped right up with nothing apparently wrong besides all the skin missing from the right side of my right shin and a smaller scrape on my left elbow. My right wrist became stiff near the bottom of the mountain, but I assumed I just bumped it and that it would be fine. The wrist and the leg turned out to be far worse than I would admit and definitely impacted not only my speed, but our ability to go over the hurdles as planned.

What keeps you coming back? Success is definitely one component. The main reason we keep coming back, though, is definitely the people and the atmosphere. We always have such a great time meeting and hanging out with fellow competitors as well as our friends and family. Our “Team Storey” probably has the largest number of supporters, but we’re out there cheering for everybody else also (except maybe when we’re in the final, haha). It has become a Columbus Day Weekend tradition, so we’ll see how long we can keep it going.

Parting words for your competition this fall: One part of me wants to tough-talk them, but as mentioned above we love hanging out with everybody and always make new friends. It does have to be said, though, that we’re there for first place. We do look forward to sharing our winning beer though and having fun, haha. We look forward to seeing the regulars from over the years, and to new competitors: Show up, do your best, have fun and come say hello!

kskelton@sunjournal.com

Elliot and Giana Storey

Elliot and Giana Storey race in last year’s North American Wife Carrying Championship in Newry. The Westbrook couple won and went to the world championship in Finland in July.

Elliot and Giana Storey during last year’s North American Wife Carrying Championship in Newry. The Westbrook couple won and went to the world championship in Finland in July.

Giana and Elliot Storey

Elliot and Giana Storey during last year’s North American Wife Carrying Championship in Newry. The Westbrook couple won and went to the world championship in Finland in July.

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