British Columbia

Fastest wife-carrying couple wins 45 kg of beer at Burnaby festival

20 couples participated in race, which is a feature at the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival.

20 couples participated in race, which is a feature at the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival

Two couples run in the wife-carrying race in Burnaby on Sunday. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

When it comes to wife-carrying races, you can piggyback, fireman carry or use a technique known as Estonian-style to get around a nearly 250-metre track.

And that's exactly what 20 couples did Sunday at the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in Burnaby while competing in a race that originated in Finland.

The concept is based on a folk tale, but wife-carrying is taken so seriously by some that there has been a world championship event every year since 1992.

There are obstacles, strategy and, of course, variations in carrying style at Burnaby's wife-carrying race. 1:14

Organizers at the Burnaby festival say they've been doing the event at the festival for more than 10 years and it is popular, perhaps due to the prize, which is the weight in beer of the person being carried.

"This is probably one of the highlights," said David Moulton. "People come specifically wanting to run but also to watch, because it's a lot of fun."

The course is a flat oval, slightly less than 250 metres around and has obstacles such as a hurdles and water pools. The person being carried has to weigh a minimum of 100 pounds or 45 kilograms.

Two couples navigate a barrier at the wife-carrying race at the Scandinavian festival in Burnaby. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

"You've got to make the race interesting," said Moulton. "It's not just a matter of speed, you have to have some dexterity to get around the track."

Mark Gharibians and his wife did the race on Sunday. The couple own a gym in North Vancouver.

He says they didn't have much strategy other than, "try not to crash and kill my wife."

Gharibians said the race is fun and a great workout. He and his wife finished third.


Several couples in the race — who don't have to be married, or even the opposite sex — used a carry technique called the Estonian-style, in which the person being carried squeezes their legs around the carrier's neck and wraps their arms around their waist.

The head of the person being carried dangles near the carrier's buttocks.

It's what Courtney James and Devon Pereira did to win the race and about 45 kilograms in beer.

Courtney James gets weighed so she can be awarded her weight in beer. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

James finished second last year with a different partner, but this year with Pereira — who is not her husband — finished first.

"We kind of figured it out as we went along," Pereira said about their strategy.

James said it was all about the beer.

"I'm excited," she said after she was weighed and the couple was awarded about five and a half cases of beer.

Courtney James and Devon Pereira, middle, pose for a photo with the other top couples from the wife-carrying competition. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

With files from Jon Hernandez


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