NEWRY — When competing against the
world's fittest man, Joe Decker of San Diego, Calif., it helps to
have an edge.
Dave is an assistant football
coach and track and field coach at Lewiston High School.
The Lewiston couple took first place on
the 278-yard obstacle course, posting a time of
54.45 seconds. That came despite a fall near the finish line on the first run
that knocked the wind out of Dave, and Lacey off of his shoulders.
But they quickly stood, she draped
herself back over his shoulders upside down — arms around his waist
and legs locked around his head in the Finnish event's traditional Estonian carry —
and they crossed the line four seconds later to loud applause.
“When we came over the hill, I said
to myself, 'Just go for it,' and I must have tripped over a rock or
something,” Dave said.
His body suddenly pitched forward and
he hit the ground hard, spilling 97-pound Lacey, bloodying her hand
and banging her knee. Lacey said she thought
she'd fallen off on her own, not realizing at first that it was Dave
who fell and was also hurt.
“The fall knocked the wind out of me
and I hurt my shoulder and I wasn't breathing there for a second,” Dave said. “And then, all I heard was the crowd
yelling, 'Get up! Get up!'”
A crowd of more than 2,000 people attended the event, said Sunday River resort spokeswoman Darcy
Standing near the finish line, Lacey's
mom, Kayleen Stackhouse of Alfred, said she was one of those yelling
for her son-in-law to complete the run.
“He had ruptured his spleen a couple
of years ago, so I was worried about it, but I had my eyes on the
clock and it was 50 seconds and I yelled, 'Get up! Get up!'”
“I was kind of mad at myself because
I wanted to break the 50-second mark,” Dave said. “It was
like running the 400-meter. I was upset and I felt like I was going
to throw up.”
He said he was glad their heat, which put them in first place,
came early in the competition that fielded 41 two-person teams, because it
gave them time to nurse their injuries before the run-off between the two teams with the best times after the first round.
The Castros next hurdle would be found not on the course, but in the form of the second-place team of Andy Gale of Cambridge, Mass., and
Nicole Garcia of Somerville, Mass., who completed the course in 61.9 seconds in the first round.
In the run-off, the Castros
finished without falling in 56.53 seconds, beating Gale's and Garcia's second-run time of 58.93 seconds. After finishing in first place once again, the Castros hugged and kissed and shouted
“When I came down that hill, I knew
it was time to raise my hands and all that pain goes away,” Dave said after the run-off.
“It was great! It was awesome!”
Like the Castros, Saturday's race was a
first for Garcia and Gale, too.
“The crowd was great!” Gale said.
“They keep you going.”
The Castros said the final obstacle
after the water hole — a large dirt mound that emcee Hiram Towle
dubbed “Mount Vesuvius” — was the toughest hazard. Lacey Castro
called it a giant anthill. It was new this year, resort spokeswoman Liberty said.
But for Garcia and Gale, the worst hazard was the 10-yard-long, 3-foot-deep waterhole of “very slippery”
mud and 38-degree water.
Prior to the race, Gale said they were hoping for a top 10
finish, but had their doubts after learning that the world's fittest
man would be competing.
Joe Decker said he earned that title when he broke the world fitness record during the Guinness Book
of World Record's 24-hour Physical Fitness Challenge in
The Deckers, however, took a spill in
the water hazard and finished in 11th place with a time of 65.92 seconds.
The Castros also won five cases of
Bud Light Golden Wheat beer based on Lacey's weight of 97 pounds, and
five times her weight in cash: $485.
Additionally, they won the right to
represent the nation in the 2010 Wife Carrying World Championships in
Sonkajärvi, Finland, where the event originated in 1991. They do have to pay
for their trip themselves.
"I'm just very proud of both of them," Kayleen Stackhouse said. "There will be no getting her head through the door now that we have a celebrity in the family."