She ain't heavy, she's my wife: 7 fun facts about the wacky wife-carrying contest

Christina Arsenault balances on a see-saw to claim the first place prize of her weight in beer after winning the North American Wife Carrying Championship with Jesse Wall at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Christina Arsenault balances on a see-saw to claim the first place prize of her weight in beer after winning the North American Wife Carrying Championship with Jesse Wall at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Christina Arsenault and Jesse Wall (right) celebrate after winning the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Christina Arsenault and Jesse Wall (right) celebrate after winning the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Christian Carlsson (front in yellow) carries Tuyet Nguyen ahead of Kevin Chamberlain (rear), carrying Chantal Colpitts, in the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Christian Carlsson (front in yellow) carries Tuyet Nguyen ahead of Kevin Chamberlain (rear), carrying Chantal Colpitts, in the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Shane Arnold and Brandy Bates clear the second obstacle ahead of Ian and Susan Bell (left) while competing in the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Shane Arnold and Brandy Bates clear the second obstacle ahead of Ian and Susan Bell (left) while competing in the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Competitiors run the down hill portion of the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Competitiors run the down hill portion of the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Seth Swanberg carries Lisa Swanberg through the water pit while competing in the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Seth Swanberg carries Lisa Swanberg through the water pit while competing in the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Contestants leave the starting line to compete in the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Contestants leave the starting line to compete in the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Nathan Johnson carries Tia Johnson out of the water pit while competing in the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Nathan Johnson carries Tia Johnson out of the water pit while competing in the North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry, Maine on Oct 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

With their wives slung over their shoulders, the men ran, waded into a muddy pit, and climbed over log hurdles, as spectators cheered them on.

It may sound wacky but it was serious fun for the participants at the North American Wife Carrying Championship which took place in Newry, Maine, over the weekend. The annual event, now in its 15th year, was held at the base of a grassy ski mountain at the Sunday River resort.

The wife-carrying competition, which originated from Finland, has become so popular that it's also practised in places like Australia, Hong Kong and Estonia.

We look at seven fun facts about the contest:

1. How did it all start?

The competition began in Finland in the 1990s. Known as "eukonkanto", it was inspired loosely by the legend of a 19th century outlaw who tested the mettle of his gang of robbers by having them run an obstacle course with a woman on their backs.

2. Who can participate?

Although it is called wife-carrying competition, participants need not be husband and wife. For instance, the winners of this year's North American Wife Carrying Championship - Ms Christina Arsenault and Mr Jesse Wall - are friends.

3. Are there rules on how the man should carry the woman?

Common techniques include: piggyback, fireman's carry (over the shoulder), or Estonian-style (the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around the husband's shoulders, holding onto his waist).

4. What are the rules of the game?

In Finland, the length of the official track is 253.5 metres. The track has two "dry" obstacles and one water obstacle, about a metre deep.

The woman has to be at least 49 kg. If she weighs less, a rucksack will be added to make up the shortfall.

And the most important rule? "All the participants must have fun," said website www.eukonkanto.fi.

5. Sounds easy, no?

Well, former NBA star Dennis Rodman took part in the contest in Finland but he ran only the last 100 m of the course, claiming he wasn't prepared for such a gruelling contest, according to reports.

6. What's the record time?

The world record of 55.5 seconds is held by Margo Uusorg and Birgit Ulricht from Tallinn, Estonia. The Finnish record is 56.7 seconds.

7. Is the prize worth the risk of dropping their significant half during the race?

The prize: the wife's weight in beer.

Some contests also hand out cash prizes. The one in North America, for instance, awards the winning team with a cash prize that is five times the weight of the woman. 

Source: www.eukonkanto.fi