NEWRY, Maine — John and Tess Farra of Caribou, Maine posted the fastest preliminary time and topped their original effort in the final heat to become 2006 North American Wife Carrying Champions (NAWCC) against the largest field in the event??в„ўs history. They take home a trophy, Tess??в„ўs weight in Redhook beer, five times her weight in cash plus the chance to compete in the World Championships in Finland.
A total of 27 teams competed in this year??в„ўs NAWCC, which surpassed the previous high of 23 teams. Second place finishers Daniel Brown and Janel Worcester of Brewer, Maine, followed up the Farras. First place in the over 80-combined age category was claimed by Jack and Sara Lavalette of South Glastenbury, Ct.
“We definitely plan on going to Finland,” said John Farra. “Training was key for me. One method I used was putting an 80 pound bag of cement mix in my backpack and running around the yard.”
In addition to the large turnout of competitors, this year??в„ўs event was noteworthy in that Sunday River made the first snow of the season in the East as nighttime temperatures dipped down into the 20??в„ўs overnight allowing the snowmaking system to be tested to prepare for the approaching ski season. The resort??в„ўs All For One Season Passes reach their purchase deadline this weekend. Information on All For One Season Passes and NAWCC results are available at is available at www.sundayriver.com.
Competitors from eight different states competed in this year??в„ўs event including teams from as far away as Georgia and Colorado.
Couples navigate a 278-yard obstacle while the man is literally “carrying” the women. Women are allowed to carry men as well, which occurred for the first time in 2005. The teams do not have to comprise of married couples, but they must comprise of a man and a woman and both must be at least 21 years old to enter. The carry is the competitors??в„ў choice, though most use the “Estonian” carry, where the “wife” holds her husband around the waist of the husband and tightens her legs around his neck, thereby freeing the husband??в„ўs hands.
The legend behind the contest is based in Finnish history. In the 19th century, infamous Ronkainen the Robber had high qualifications for men he accepted into his band. They had to complete a difficult course with a heavy sack on their backs. It was also not uncommon for men to steal women from neighboring villages. The first modern-day event was held in 1991 and foreign contestants were admitted in 1995. Qualifiers are also held in Sweden and Estonia.