July 8 (UPI) -- Vytatutas Kirkliauskas, with his wife Neringa, traversed a muddy course and won the annual wife-carrying championships in Finland on Saturday.
It was the second consecutive victory for the Lithuanian couple in the international event, held for the 31st time in Sonkajarvi, Finland. They ran an 830-foot obstacle course, walking in mud and crossing waist-high water and wooden barriers in one minute and 6.72 seconds. Their finish was only one second better than the effort of six-time winner Taisto Miettinen and new partner Katja Kovanen, but enough to win the prize of the wife's weight in beer.
Contestants from a dozen countries took part in the event, inspired by a Finnish folk legend involving the kidnapping of women by pillagers. Despite the name, team members need not be married, although the passenger must weigh at least 108 pounds. The most common technique in Saturday's event called for the woman contestant to hang upside-down across the male contestant's back, her legs wrapped around his neck as he ran the course.
National competitions occur in the United States, Australia, Poland and England, with China organizing an event in 2020. In 2018, a Maine couple, Jesse Wall and Christine Arsenault, won 12 cases of beer at the North American Wife Carrying Championship in Newry, Maine.