A Rather Unusual Marital Burden

Singer Natalie Cole performs at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009. It was her first time on stage since receiving a transplant. AP

If you're looking for a way to spend some special time with your spouse over the Thanksgiving holidays, why not do what The Early Show's Melinda Murphy and her husband did: enter a "Wife Carrying Contest."

Somehow, Murphy was able to sweet-talk her husband into trekking up to Sunday River, Maine for the largest wife carrying championship in the world, and she says they had a blast.

The contest is based on a 19th century character, Rokanen the Robber. Rokanen made men go through hoops to get into his tribe. He also used to take them into villages and sometimes steal women.

For the contest, its husbands carrying their wives. Murphy found out she was up against some stiff competition.

"I'm not exactly tiny, but I have a secret weapon," says Murphy. "My husband, Tom, is a hulking 6 foot 5 inches."

The couple was confident that Tom's strength would help them in the competition, but they decided it wouldn't hurt to get some tips from the winners of a competition in Oklahoma .

After getting some pointers, the couple scouted the course they would be running. It wouldn't be an easy stroll. The course had obstacles and a water hazard that was a little over three feet deep.

"[The water hazard] is the critical part where you can pick up time because everybody can run fast," says Murphy. "The person that's willing to risk wiping out in the water will probably win the beer."

Just in case, there is a lifeguard ready to rescue embarrassed teams that don't get across.

Murphy prepared for the challenge by lighting up -- shopping for clothes that would not weigh her team down.

Seventeen teams tackled the 278-yard obstacle course ahead of the couple. Some teams were grateful to race, and others were not. Some competed with the greatest of ease, while others ran into problems.

Finally it was Murphy and her husband's turn. They reached the finish line in 1 minute, 43-and-a-half seconds.

Murphy says they are going to practice a little bit next time, or maybe that Tom will get a lighter wife.

In the end, their coaches, Wendy and Warren from Oklahoma, came in first — even breaking the North American record at a very respectable 1:15:1.

The prize? Five times the wife's weight in cash plus her weight in beer.

Murphy says although her team didn't win, it wasn't all bad. After all, she still gets to go home with her husband.
  • Rome Neal

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