The tradition of wife carrying lives on in Western Maine this fall with two ways to enjoy the sport. Sunday River Resort will host its 21st Annual North American Wife Carrying Championship, with some modifications, on Friday, October 9 at 11:00 A.M., and the new Couples of Wife Carrying mockumentary film will make its theatrical debut at Bethel’s Gem Theater the same weekend.
The North American Wife Carrying Championship, which is held each year during the resort’s fall celebration on Columbus Day weekend, tasks couples with traversing a 278-yard obstacle course with one member of the team carrying the other. Obstacles on the course include a log hurdle, the widow-maker water hazard, and a sand hill. The couple to complete the course with the fastest time receives the wife’s weight in beer, five times her weight in cash, and entry into the World Wife Carrying Championship in Finland the following summer.
With health and safety in mind, the resort has made a number of adjustments to the event. First, the event will be held on Friday, October 9 instead of Saturday, October 10. Spectating will be limited, and is not allowed in the center of the course as in years past. Masks are required at all times, except when competitors are completing their timed run. Couples will race against the clock, rather than head-to-head. The couple with the fastest time overall will be named the champion; there will be no head-to-head heat for the finals.
Registration for the North American Wife Carrying Championship is available in a limited capacity. Couples must be over the age of 21, but do not need to be legally married, or comprised of a man and woman.
The weekend is also bolstered by the theatrical premiere of Couples of Wife Carrying, a feature-length satirical comedy that was filmed at the resort in 2017. There will be showings of the film on October 9 and October 10, limited to 50 people each, at the Gem Theater in Bethel.