Oct. 14, 2011 -- The only goal of the North American Wife Carrying Championships, is to, well, carry your wife faster than anyone else.
Hosted in scenic Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, Maine, the competition is one part fitness, one part couple's therapy. Husbands hoisted their wives onto their backs, the wives upside-down with their legs wrapped around their husbands' heads -- what's known as the Estonian method -- and couples took off running through a race course as one.
Last year's champions were Rocco Andreozzi, 24, and Kim Wasco, 23, with a combined weight of 333 pounds. In 2009, the champs were Dave and Lacey Castro, 39 and 29 respectively, with a combined weight of 275 pounds. Both Maine couples were back again this year.
The Castros take the competition very seriously, and trained for this moment.
"I think because we're able to work together, we can together and figure out a good fit for carrying methods and training methods," Lacey Castro said.
"In simpler terms, she's light and I'm fast," her husband Dave added.
It was Lacey who first read about the sport of wife carrying in a magazine, and suggested they give it a try. The two practiced regularly and read up on strategies together.
"I think it really brings us together," Dave said. "It's one of those things that when we come home or I come home and I'm excited to talk about it."
However, last year's winners have a much more casual approach. Andreozzi said he and Wasco haven't practiced for the competition at all, with the exception of a few trial runs behind a dumpster at the ski resort the morning of the race.
"We showed up at 9 and practiced for a few minutes, but no we don't train or anything," he said.
The two aren't even married, but the competition doesn't force that as a requirement.
So what's on the line here? Pride, power and a trip to the World Wife Carrying Championships in Finland.
Almost all competitors utilize the Estonian method, named for the legend associated with the sport.
"In old folklore, I guess the Estonians used to come over to the Finnish villages and literally steal wives and run as fast as they could back to Estonia to keep as their own wives," Lacey Castro said.
The 47 teams of two gathered together to race through the course -- up a hill, through water and mud pits, over logs and a sand mound. At the end of the preliminary round, only the Castros and Andreozzi and Wasco were left.
In the next round, the Castros came close but fell just before the finish line and Andreozzi and Wasco took the lead and won -- although both finished the course in under a minute. Emerging victorious, the unmarried couple was once again named the North American Wife Carrying Champions.
"I think we got something good going," Andreozzi said. "I think it's working."