North American Wife Carrying Championship

Nov 7, 2011 2 comments

The North American Wife Carrying Championship is a fun sport in which male competitors race while carrying a female teammate on their backs. The objective is for the male to carry the female through a special obstacle track in the fastest time. Several types of carry may be practiced such as piggyback, fireman's carry (over the shoulder), or Estonian-style which has the woman upside down with arms wrapped around the man's waist and her legs draped over his shoulders. Teams are also encouraged to create their own style. The sport was first introduced at Sonkajärvi, Finland. From there it spread to other parts of the world such as the United States and Hong Kong.


Although called, ‘Wife Carrying’, the female does not need to be the legal wife of the male. She must however be over 17 years of age and must weight at least 49 Kg. If the female weighs less than 49 kg, she is usually burdened with a rucksack containing additional weight to make the competition fare.

The origin of North American Wife Carrying Championship is based in Finnish history. According to Wikipedia:

Tales have been passed down from one person to another about a man named Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen. This man was considered a robber in the late 1800s, lived in a forest, and ran around with his gang of thieves causing harm to the villages. From what has been found, there are three ideas to why/how this sport was invented. First, Rosvo-Ronkainen and his thieves were accused of stealing food and women from villages in the area he lived in; then carried these women on their backs as they ran away, (hence the “wife” or women carrying). For the second idea, it has been said that young men would go to villages near their own, steal other men’s wives, and then have the woman become their own wife. These wives were also carried on the backs of the young men; this was referred to as “the practice of wife stealing." Lastly, there was the idea that Rosvo-Ronkainen trained his thieves to be “faster and stronger” by carrying big, heavy sacks on their backs, which could have eventually evolved to a sport because of the hard labor (endurance), and muscle strengthening; which most sports ensure.

The North American Wife Carrying Championship is held every year at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, Maine. The 2011 edition of the sport was held on Saturday, October 8. Rocco Andreozzi from Bethel, Maine, and Kim Wasco from Farmington, Maine won this year’s championship.













  1. haha! nice to hear the history of this crazy competition and to see that it's spread to other parts of the world too. i've never heard these facts even though i'm a finn


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