NEWRY — The Lewiston couple who won last fall's North American Wife Carrying Championship will defend their title next month when Sunday River Ski Resort hosts the 11th annual event.
Held on Saturday, Oct. 9, the event marks the couple's last chance to qualify for the World Wife Carrying Championship in Finland held in July of next year.
The Newry event touts a prize list including the wife's weight in beer, five times her weight in cash, and serious bragging rights, resort spokeswoman Darcy Morse said in a Thursday report.
With a time of 54.45 seconds last year, Dave and Lacey Castro of Lewiston beat a field of 46 couples coming from as far away as California.
“Last year's champions, Dave and Lacey Castro, have already signed up and are definitely planning on defending their title,” Morse said.
“I have to say they have their work cut out for them. While the world's strongest man/wife couple are not registered to compete this year, we do have a couple out of Gorham, Maine, who have been holding wife-carrying training classes at their gym and are set on winning.”
The Gorham couple are Jesse and Stacey Coleman, who competed in last month's Tough Mountain Challenge race at the Newry ski hill, but have never participated in the North American Wife Carrying Championship or an event like it.
“They saw the event on ESPN last fall and made a personal pact to train for, compete in and win this year's event,” Morse said of the Colemans.
“They have a blog dedicated to their fitness efforts and have some fun wife-carrying specific posts at http://www.my-fit-family.com/.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Morse said there are 32 couples signed up out of 50 spots for the race and officials expect to “easily” sell out the event.
“It should be an intense race year,” she said.
The race is part of the resort's Fall Festival Weekend.
"The North American Wife Carrying Championship brings people from all over the U.S. to compete," Dana Bullen, Sunday River resort president, said.
"For some, this event is part of a bucket list and something they've trained for. For others, it's a challenge they've decided to sign up for on the day of the event."
Morse said the most challenging aspect of wife carrying remains the actual carry.
Throughout the past decade, championship couples have all favored the highly technical Estonian carry, which requires the carried partner to hold on, upside down and backwards in a piggyback-like fashion.
The Castros used the Estonian carry to win, Morse said.
Teams must comprise a male and a female competitor, both at least 21 years old. Couples do not need to be married and can choose which teammate is carried as well as the carrying technique used. Almost always, men carry women, but in recent races, there have been a few women carrying men on their backs.
“Held outside of Sunday River's South Ridge Base Lodge, the 278-yard, wife-carrying course includes uphill running, log hurdles, and the always crowd-pleasing 10-meter-long, waist-deep water obstacle,” Morse said.
Based on Finnish history, wife carrying for sport originated in the 19th century after the practice was used to require strong physical standards on men looking to join the local band of arms. To qualify, men had to complete a course with a heavy sack on their backs, which was often substituted for women from neighboring villages.
Registration for the event is available online and open until the day of the event, Morse said. Cost is $45 per team. For more information on the NAWCC or any of the events happening during this Fall Festival Weekend, visit www.sundayriver.com.