Oxford couple wins wife carrying race

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NEWRY — About 1,000 people watched as Team Cure Mito of 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 from 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.

In the final round of competition, Team Cure Mito went up against first-time competitors Melissa Vigue and Nathan Lewia of Team CrossFit Couple of Wells, who finished the race with a time of 1:04.02.

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 of Yarmouth, with a time of 1:10.40, they beat out Darryl and Caroline Dickey of Team Dickey from Smyrna, Georgia, who had 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 partners off their backs.

Once the couple made it through the waterhole they had to race up and over a 3-foot-tall man-made hill 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 Storeys were the 2016 overall champions and they placed second overall last year.

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 in which 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.

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Sara Willey heads for her first face plant as she falls off her husband Ezra’s shoulders during the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River in Newry on Saturday. The couple, from Bangor, were competing in the 19th annual contest won by returning champions Jesse Wall and Christine Arsenault of Team Cure Mito of Oxford. They took home 12 cases of beer in addition to five times Arsenault’s weight in cash. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Sara Willey splashes head first into the water obstacle for the second time as she falls off her husband Ezra’s shoulders during the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River in Newry on Saturday. The couple, from Bangor, were competing in the 19th annual contest won by returning champions Jesse Wall and Christine Arsenault of Team Cure Mito of Oxford. They took home 12 cases of beer in addition to five times Arsenault’s weight in cash. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Mountain bikers, foreground, pause to watch the action during the 19th annual North American Wife-Carrying Championship at Sunday River in Newry on Saturday. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Competitors and spectators hang out at Sunday River between the qualifying races and finals during Saturday’s North American Wife Carrying Championship. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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