Lithuanian couple named 'wife carrying' world champions for second time

A Lithuanian couple completed a nearly 300-yard dash over the weekend to win the title of ‘wife carrying’ world champions for the second year in a row.

Vytautas Kirkliauskas ran the 278-yard obstacle course in Sonkajarvi, Finland in just one minute and 6.72 seconds on Saturday, all while his wife Neringa was strapped to his back.

"After the second obstacle I thought I wouldn't make, but it's a great result," Kirkliauskas said, adding, "my wife, she is the best."

Lithuanian couple Vytautas Kirkliauskas, right, and Neringa Kirkliauskiene celebrate their victory in the wife carrying race, a 278-yard obstacle course, during the 24th world championships in Sonkajarvi, Finland, Saturday, July 6, 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

Lithuanian couple Vytautas Kirkliauskas, right, and Neringa Kirkliauskiene celebrate their victory in the wife carrying race, a 278-yard obstacle course, during the 24th world championships in Sonkajarvi, Finland, Saturday, July 6, 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

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The Kirkliauskas won the tournament for a second consecutive year, beating the six-time world champion Taisto Miettinen of Finland and his new partner Katja Kovanen.

Couples from over a dozen countries, including Australia, France and Germany, took part in the annual race, which only requires that the woman must be over 17-years-old and weigh at least 108 pounds.

People take part in the wife carrying race, a 278-yard obstacle course, during the 24th world championships in Sonkajarvi, Finland, Saturday, July 6, 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

People take part in the wife carrying race, a 278-yard obstacle course, during the 24th world championships in Sonkajarvi, Finland, Saturday, July 6, 2019. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

The weight of the female contestant plays an important role in the competition as the winners get to bring home the wife's weight in beer.

“The heavier the wife, the more beer for them,” Eero Pitkanen, the competition's founder, said.

Despite the event's name, couples don't actually have to be married. Organizers say male contestants could "steal a neighbor's wife" if they don't have a female companion.

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The event is inspired by a 19th-century Finnish legend, "Ronkainen the Robber," in which a gang pillages villages and steals the women. The length of the obstacle course is said to be the distance needed to avoid being shot by pursuers.

Despite the event's name couples don't have to be married, and organizers say male contestants could "steal a neighbor's wife" if they didn't have a female companion. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

Despite the event's name couples don't have to be married, and organizers say male contestants could "steal a neighbor's wife" if they didn't have a female companion. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

Revived in 1992, the tradition now has men carry their teammate in various ways, though a popular method is for the woman to hang upside-down on the back on the male contestant with her legs around his shoulders. The popularity of wife carrying races has spread outside Finnish borders, with national competitions held in Australia, Poland, England and the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.