NEWRY, Maine — Keith Cardoza and Julia Stoner of Boston, Mass. posted the second fastest preliminary time and topped their original effort in the final heat to become 2007 North American Wife Carrying Champions (NAWCC) against the largest field in the event??в„ўs history. They take home a trophy, Julia??в„ўs weight in Bud Light beer, and five times her weight in cash, which totaled $675. They have now qualified for the world championship, which is held in Finland in July.
A total of 40 teams competed in this year??в„ўs NAWCC, which surpassed the previous high of 27 teams. Second place finishers were Ri Fahnestock and Sarah Silverberg of Newmarket N.H. The margin of victory was three tenths of a second. Both teams lunged across the finish and the winner wasn??в„ўt known until the times were shown on the scoreboard.
???After it was over I still wasn??в„ўt sure we had won until we saw the scoreboard,??? said Cardoza. ???I expected this to be a challenge, but that final heat took everything I had and more. We came up this weekend for a mountain bike race at Sunday River, but I get the feeling that we??в„ўll remember it for this.???
Competitors from seven different states competed in this year??в„ўs event including teams from as far away as California and Virginia. The winner of the ???combined age over 80??? category was Ivan Wolkind and Leah Lesch of Los Angeles, Calif. Over a thousand spectators attended the event, which is a part of Sunday River Resort??в„ўs Fall Festival Weekend.
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.