BOZEMAN – Husbands and wives (plus a few couples not hitched) gathered Sunday at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds for the first-ever Rocky Mountain Wife-Carrying Championship.
The idea to turn wife carrying into a sport was sparked in 19th century Finland, when the practice was used to steal wives and women from their villages.
The first wife carrying competitive event was held in 1992 in Finland, which is now where the World Championships are hosted. The sport has made its way across the pond to the United States and the North American Championships began in Maine in 1999.
In order to qualify for any national championship, you must win a state, provincial, or regional championship – and that’s where Sunday’s race came in to play.
The course is made up of one wet obstacle and two dry obstacles, at the Gallatin Fairgrounds, these obstacles consisted of a mud pit, median wall, and a dirt ramp.
After learning the rules, the only thing left to do was run the race. For Adam and Sunny Bacon, they didn’t even know about the event until they were signed up fifteen minutes prior!
“Someone Googled how to get over the hurdles, how to carry, so we went behind the bleachers and practiced, and I didn’t break her,” Adam Bacon said.
Beginner’s luck, they ran the fastest time the course had seen at 60 seconds and won Sunny’s weight worth of beer, which happened to be five cases of Coors Banquet.
Despite the race being a physical challenge, they already felt their relationship strengthen in between the obstacles.
“I’ve never felt so close to you as I do now,” Adam said to his wife, “and thankfully I didn’t break you, so that’s good”
The website Wife-Carrying.org provides this overview:
Wife Carrying originated in Finland, and its history is based around the 19th century legend of Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen, or “Ronkainen the Robber.” There are three stories as to how the sport was created. First, Ronkainen and his thieves were accused of stealing food and women from villages in the area he lived in; then carried these women on their backs as they ran away. Second, it has been said the men would go to villages near their own to steal other men’s wives, and then have the woman become their own wife. Third is the story that Ronkainen trained his thieves by carrying big, heavy sacks on their backs, which could have eventually evolved to a sport.
The first modern day wife carrying event was held in Finland in 1992 and foreign contestants were admitted in 1995. This event is now held annually in Sonkajärvi, Finland as the World Championship. A North American Championship was started in 1999.