Sunday River’s North American Wife Starving Championship

This is part two of our story on the North American Wife Carrying Championship. Read Dale’s story here.

When I heard about the North American Wife Carrying Championship, I immediately asked Dale if he wanted to do it with me. Dale and I love to have a good time, whether it involves getting lost in 12-hour adventure races, turning giant pumpkins into boats and racing them in the ocean, or simply just setting up our slackline across the river and testing our coordination. When I watched the video of last year’s race, I thought it was a riot and was something right up our alley. Basically the competition entailed Dale carrying me on his back  for 278 feet over obstacles, up and down hills, and through a mud pit while trying not to dump me. 

I knew it would be a big help for Dale if I was as light as possible for him, but he never once pressured me to lose weight. At 125 pounds I was a healthy weight, and I was strong. In just that year alone, I had climbed the highest mountains in Africa and Europe, and I wasn’t stopping. We did discuss doing a five-pound weight cut right before the event which I was totally in for. All was well until a few weeks before the race. Dale had spent all summer training by doing his infamous sandbag runs, where he would run all around town carrying a 115-pound sandbag. Since we are a team, I started to feel guilty that I wasn’t doing my part. I got mad at myself anytime I ate, and I felt like a failure for not losing any weight for him. To clarify again, Dale never once asked me to lose weight. All the pressure was from myself.

The pressure I was putting on myself for the Wife Carrying Championship made me feel like I was back in high school again, and I didn’t like it. I expressed these feelings to Dale, and he told me what he tells me every day. I am beautiful. I am healthy. I am fun. I’m a butt-kicker. And I’m probably the only woman in this competition who could carry her “husband” out of the woods if we ever had an emergency. Dale also told me I needed to stop putting so much pressure on myself, and he was right.

The Wife Carrying Championship came around, and we had a blast. We lost miserably, and my head-dunking made it on national television the next morning. My favorite part of the competition was getting off Dale’s back at the end and getting a big hug and kiss. We both loved and respected each other so much, and we had one more thing to add onto our list of adventures. One thing that really bothered me about the competition (other than the high prevalence of very thin women) was that when the winning team finished, the guy just dumped his partner on the ground and started celebrating without helping her up. It was then that I realized that Dale and I were the real winners.

Dear Sunday River: I want to say that your wife carrying competition is a fun concept, but it is not all fun and games like it appears on the outside. I think some changes need to be made. Set a minimum weight limit like in the international competition. Make the women carry their husbands for bonus points. Stop pressuring women to go to unhealthy measures, and start encouraging strength, vitality, and health. Sunday River is a place for strong women, so let’s show it!