The 7th annual UK Wife Carrying Race took place in Dorking, Surrey at the weekend. In one of the closest contested events yet, Rich Blake Smith triumphed with Anna on board, narrowly beating Vytautas Kirkliauskas of Lithuania, carrying his wife Neringa Kirliauskiene.
Blake Smith covered the 380m course in only 2 minutes in good-to-firm conditions.
The winner showed his early class by strongly hurdling the hay bales, but was pushed hard by the Lithuanian, who had previously placed third at the World Wife Carrying Championships in Finland.
However, Chris said: "I felt him on my shoulder at the half way point and just put the pedal down a bit." Enthusiastic dads with buckets of water, aided and abbetted by water-pistol-packing tots saw to it that all competitors got a refreshing soaking.
Rich concluded: "He was still nearly with me at the water hazard - they really gave it to us at with the water buckets as the first ones through - but I had him at the hay bale hurdles. I'm really proud and pleased to have won the UK Wife Carrying Race and a national title."
There were a record 40 teams entered this year. All the participants received a mini-keg of Pilgrim real ale, from the local Pilgrim Brewery, as well as a medal and Wife Carrying t-shirt. The winners won a barrel of ale and £250 toward competing at the World Wife Carrying Championships in Finland in July.
Race organiser Robert McCaffrey commented: "I took part in the race for the second year running, and it is every bit as tough as billed - you earn your ale.
"I'm so pleased that we had so many couple turning out to run - a new record of 40 this year - and we all had a fantastic time, mostly laughing our heads off. It is a bizarre race, but you can't help smiling despite the exhaustion. We'll be back again next year, and we're looking forward to it already!"