NEWRY – Fifteen teams have signed up to compete in Sunday River Ski Resort’s 9th annual North American Wife Carrying Championships on Columbus Day weekend.

Held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, the wacky athletic competition features men carrying women on their back – and sometimes women carrying men – while navigating a 278-yard-long obstacle course.

Boston couple Keith Cardoza and his girlfriend, Julia Stoner, won last year’s event by a third of a second.

Usually, men literally carry the women upside down on their backs while sprinting uphill, around a corner, climbing over two 3-foot-high wooden hurdles and slogging through a water pit downhill to the finish line.

The muddy, waist-deep water hole – beside which most onlookers stand – usually claims racers, who run side-by-side in pairs during the timed heats.

The course is mostly flat with sections of soft sand and grass and one hairpin turn.

Forty teams registered last year, although only 34 made it to the starting line. The majority of contestants come from throughout New England, although last year, there were some from New York, Virginia and California.

According to rules posted on the resort’s Web site, contestants need not be related, but must be 21 or older since the first-place prize is the wife’s weight in beer.

Other prizes for the top duo include five times the wife’s weight in cash and qualification to compete in the World Wife Carrying Championships in Finland, where the sport originated in 1991. Foreign contestants were allowed to compete four years later.

The event is one segment of the resort’s Fall Festival weekend, which also features the Blue Mountain Arts and Crafts Fair, the Mountain Epic running race, and a concert with Max Creek.

For more information, contact the resort at 824-3000 or visit

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