NEWRY — Two couples were neck and neck as they reached the second-to-last and most difficult obstacle, the mud-pit lake.

Where many other teams competing in the 16th Annual North American Wife Carrying Contest faltered that day, these two made quick work of the challenge, wading through and continuing on with ease, or so they made it look.

The winners, Sam Brakeley and Steph Reighart of Lebanon, N.H., came out ahead with just a five-second lead, finishing the course with a time of 1:05:30.

“We were like one person, two people as one,” Brakeley said after the race at Sunday River Ski Resort. The winning couple couldn’t stop smiling, a little out of breath but excited. 

Brakeley’s cousin, Jesse Wall, is half of the winning couple from last year’s Wife Carrying Championship. Wall was there to cheer on his cousin, hugging the pair and smiling wide as they crossed the finish line as winners. 

“Wife carrying is based on husband-and-wife teams racing with the husband carrying the wife (on his back) through a regulation length 278-yard obstacle course featuring log hurdles, sand traps, and the always popular “widowmaker” water hazard,” according to Sunday River’s website.

This year, couples came from all corners of the country, including a couple from Oakland, Calif., who registered the morning of on a whim and came in third place. The event also brought a large crowd of excited and energetic people cheering on each couple as they made their way through the course. 

Each round saw two couples go head to head, up the side of the mountain and around, making their way down to the finish line after wading through a man-made mud-pit lake, which was 28 degrees that morning. At the end of the round, the two teams with the fastest times went on to compete for the prize. 

The prize, of course, is the wife’s weight in beer and five times her weight in cash. 

Taking second place were Mike Kress and Anna-Lena Schneider of Portland, who were excited about coming so close. With a 1:10:20 finish time, they were proud of the accomplishment. Anna-Lena’s entire family had flown out from Germany to visit and cheer the couple on at the race, along with Mike and Anna-Lena’s baby daughter. 

Both final teams were awarded their “wife’s” weight in beer, measured in cases of Shocktop Shocktober. The winners took home 10 cases, and the runners-up took home eight. The winners also took home a cash prize of $750.60, five times the wife’s weight. Brakeley and Reighart are not married, they said, but are simply friends and housemates.

Awards were also given to the best couple with a combined age of 80 or more, and the best couple with a combined weight of 350 pounds or more. 


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