The 15th annual North American Wife Carrying Championship, held this past weekend in Maine, is exactly what it sounds like.
Credit: Sunday River

By now, we've all heard about obstacle races and mud runs, but how about an event where you hurdle logs and trudge through muddy water pits—with a person on your back? That's exactly what happened during Saturday's 15th annual North American Wife Carrying Championship at the Sunday River Resort in Newry, Maine.

Fifty man-and-woman pairs (though not necessarily couples) competed in 25 qualifying heats to see who could run the regulation 287-yard course fastest. The winning team gets the woman's weight in beer and five times her numerical weight in cash.

The sport began in Finland in the 1990s and is based on a 19th century Finnish legend Ronkainen the Robber who allegedly auditioned members of his gang by making them run through a difficult course carrying either a heavy sack, or a woman stolen from a nearby village.

Now, it's hard enough to hurdle and trudge with just your own body weight, so securing the female passenger without hindering the runner's movement is essential. (No piggybacks here.) Most teams use the "Estonian carry," where the woman hangs upside down on the man's back with her arms around his waist and her feet wrapped around his neck.

This year's champions, with a time of 1:04.10, were friends Jesse Wall and Christina Arsenault. They won 10 cases of beer—measured on an epic wooden see-saw "scale" using one of the hurdles—and $482.50.

Wall and Arsenault have been competing together since 2010 and have finished in the top 3 each year. They also advanced to the 20th Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajärvi, Finland, in July.

Here are 7 more amazing photos from the event:

The first of two log obstacles

Photo: Sunday River

Eventual winners Wall and Arsenault hurdling the first log

Photo: Sunday River

A close contest coming out of the water pit

Photo: Sunday River

Crowds lining the finish

Photo: Sunday River

Viking hats are optional

Photo: Sunday River

Wall celebrating his team's victory

Photo: Sunday River

See-saw scale with Arsenault and 10 cases of beer

Photo: Sunday River