BOZEMAN — Husbands and wives gathered at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds Sunday 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.
First things first, you must have a partner. The rules state it does not have to be your wife, so many friends and teammates came out to compete, like Chris Helly and Kara Hall.
“I’m a dentist at Everything Dentistry, so this is my assistant,” Chris said, referring to Kara. “The rules said you didn’t need a wife; mine actually signed us up.”
While it doesn’t have to be your lifelong partner, you still have to make sure you can carry them. It’s a five-point penalty for a drop. It is also a disqualification if the wife isn’t carried the full length of the course.
There is no rule regarding how the wife may be carried, but the most common and practical move is the Estonian Carry, where the wife hangs upside down parallel to the husband’s back.
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 15 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, the couple already felt their relationship strengthen 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.”