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Barcelona: The race (Part three of three)

In 1982 it was Bros Peersman from Belgium who won Barcelona.
I remember the brothers and the bird very well as I was there with some Japanese who wanted to buy the winner.
When Peersman was asked what strain it was he shrugged his shoulders. ‘Strain?’ What did it matter he wondered. After thinking hard he thought the bird possibly carried some Gorin blood. The Japanese were happy and wrote down Golin.
‘It is Gorin’ I said. ‘Thank you, thank you’ they reacted and wrote down again Golin.
In Holland Albert Simons won 1st National with a grandson of ‘Oud Doffertje’ from v d Wegen. The blood of ‘Oud doffertje’ would be found in many National and International winners later on.
Though one might think Mr Simons was happy after his victory it was one of the saddest days in his life. The bird arrived before the fancier was there and… not being at his post meant he won 2nd International and not 1st. He was beaten by just a few seconds. Famous Paul Gilmont, the chemist, was the International winner in 1983. His pigeon was of the Vanbruaene and Gorin bloodline. Again!

1984, 1985 and 1986
The 1984 race was again held in a burning heat and head winds. And again a big shot was the winner: Andre Vanbruaene mentioned before.
He and Demaret are the only ones in history who won the International race two times so far. The difference is that Demaret did it with the same bird.
As a 24-year-old Cees Boeters won the National in Holland in 1985 but he forgot to fill in the International poule sheet. His bird made a higher speed than that of the International winner Mr Vervisch whose bird was of the Bruno Waelkens bloodline and… a little bit Vanbruane.
Boeters is one of the team (Gardien) who won Barcelona International in 2002. If he had been more alert in 1985 he would be the third person who had won twice.
1985 Was also the year of ‘Smaragd Barcelona’ from Dutch W v Leeuwen.
After she had won International in 1984 (category hens) she now won 2nd International (hens) against 3.254 birds.
Also in 1986 a hen (from German Schlomer) won International 1st.
She beat 18,076 birds at a speed of 996 mpm, which refers to a hard race.
As mentioned before people sometimes argue which was the hardest race ever. Some claim it was the one in 1987. The heat was unbearable and the heroes of the sky could hardly move forward. Only 803 mpm was the speed of the winner (21,545 competitors) a cock so small that one could have put him in a beer glass. The owner was Belgian Cretien Vanoppen.
It was the very last winner I myself tried to buy. I went there with 2 million Belgian francs in my pocket (nearly 45,000 USD) but this was not enough.
‘This world is crazy’ I thought and stopped buying such birds.
Vanoppens winner was of Dutch blood ( v d Wegen and Kuypers).

In 1988 the winner of 21,195 pigeons made 1.393 mpm. So far this is the highest speed in history due to tailwinds of course. Its strain was Kuypers x van Geel, the owner W v Leeuwen from Holland.
In 1990 a red cock of German multi millionaire Hermes was the fastest of no less than 28,128 birds. In its pedigree we find again Dutch names.
In Holland Mr Schlangen won. Unfortunately his victory also meant his death. The bird was sold; like nearly every Barcelona winner and after Mr Schlangen got the money he was shot by his own son. He was a butcher such as many famous fanciers (Sylvere Toye, Raymund Hermes, Pochet, Romein, Hofkens and others).
Belgian van Roye won the 1991 race (27,167 birds) with a 50 percent v d Wegenbird.

1992 Was to be another remarkable year. Friday evening the 3rd of July the Pigeon world was shocked by the news that 2 birds had arrived home on the day of release. Belgian butcher Eugene Pochet was having a cup of coffee in the veranda when he saw 2 Barcelona racers arrive late in the evening twilight. They were clocked at 21.19 and 21,27 p.m.
Strong tailwinds had driven up the speed to 1267 mpm for a distance of 1,011 kilometres.
In Holland Brasse clocked a pigeon at 01.00 a.m., the first ‘night bird’ ever clocked form Barcelona. He beat Pochet as he raced from a greater distance but International winner was Dutch Biemans (1290 mpm) who raced from a distance even greater.
The bird was transferred to Masarella, an Italian who had become wealthy by selling (Italian) ice cream in England. He paid 350,000 Dutch guilders (about 160,000 USD), which is supposed to be the highest price ever paid for a pigeon.
In the year after again a Dutchman was first, barkeeper Jan Theelen. His ‘Rikky’ beat no less than 33,145 competitors, the greatest entry so far (1,101 mpm).
‘Rikky’ was not sold to Japan, England or Taiwan like most winners but stayed in Europe. Belgian Luc Sioen and his Taiwanese partner bought it.
Gijselbrecht from Knesselaere (Belgium) won in 1995 (1,000 mpm) his winner carried Vanbruane blood (20,936 birds).
The Belgian partnership Thone Willems won in 1996 with a hen raced on widowhood. The speed was low, 966 mpm, the entry 20,129 birds.
In 1998 again the German flag was hoisted. Kipp beat 14,139 competitors (1,139 mpm). The bird was of pure Dutch origin again and no wonder.
The German millionaires who started racing long distance fell for ‘Dutch birds’ in those days and to Holland they went to buy pigeons.

In 1999 a seven year old hen raced natural by Dutch Torreman won International (28.095 birds, speed 1,124 mpm). Seven years of age means the oldest Barcelona winner ever. In her pedigree we find again ‘Oud Doffertje ‘Sterke Barcelona v d Slik’.
Before the 2002 race pigeon writers commented on the races in previous years.
They found that in 1999, in 2000 and in 2001 it was always a Dutchman who won and it was three times a hen that did it.
And what happened in 2002? Dutch Gardien RBB won. Speed 1,245 mpm, the winner was…a hen (26,944 birds).

The 2002 WINNERS
‘Gardien RBB’ stands for four friends. One of them is Cees Boeters. When their way of keeping pigeons was described after their victory many eyebrows were raised.
Their idea is to go back to nature.
- They never clean the lofts. The shit lies about 10 centimetres thick and the food is thrown on it.
- The lofts are open day and night. So the birds can fly in and out whenever they want.
- Never ever they medicate. Vitamins are for people who have mental problems they claim. Pigeons do not need them. What matters is the survival of the fittest.
- 122 birds populated their lofts and believe it or not, 118 of them were entered.
The total result was poor, not even 20 birds of 118 were on time but what counts is the victory. Maybe more birds would have won a prize but the four friends were drunk when the birds arrived and 2 of them found they abusively put some gummi bands in their pockets and not into the clock. But who cares? The most important thing in life is to be happy they say. What makes them happy is beer and… pigeons. In what order nobody asked.
The winning hen was raced on a baby. But she did not pay much attention to her most probably as she was mated to 2 cocks.
Was that (2 lovers) her motivation?
No one can tell and one can only guess who is the father of her baby.
So this was bad news for people who wanted this baby and a correct pedigree at the same time. Boeters is the same who won National before but forgot to fill in the papers for the International race. And then he was not drunk.
The result is that Boeters’ name is not written with golden letters in the history of the race of all races as one of the three illustrious fanciers who won International twice.
Vets would starve if all fanciers would keep pigeons as he does. But that is not his problem. He would only have a problem if he ran out of beer.
But a Barcelona winner will never run out of beer as long as there are people in this world who pay fortunes for his bird.
Are those buyers fools?
Recently a stamp was sold for a fortune and so was an old coin.
Who is the fool? I do not know.
What I do know is that winning Barcelona is the dream of many and not only for the money. Barcelona is just THE race.

Of course it is not all gold that glitters. During so many years also things happened which should not have happened that cast a shadow on this Marathon.
I am going to mention some.

  1. The story of the whore.
    There is the story of the whore. Fanciers sometimes wonder why his favourite was late or never came back home at all.
    Well a thing like the following could have happened.
    Some years ago there was this truck driver who heard the hell of a noise in one of the baskets. Then he saw what was going on. One hen and 17 cocks in one basket and the hen seemed to have a good time. She ‘did it’ with all cocks again and again.
    Understandingly the cocks were worn out before they had even flown one yard.
    Of course the mistake was made during basketing at the club. When the driver reported what was going his superiors said it was forbidden to open baskets before the release.
    When the baskets were opened eleven cocks could hardly fly as their eyes were swollen due to fighting.
    That year 3 pigeons were found dead in the trucks and one fell dead on the ground after she had only flown 100 metres.
  2. Birds escaped.
    There are the stories of the escaped birds. In the 80-ies the baskets were in bad shape. Once fanciers found Barcelona racers in their loft on Wednesday when they were supposed to be on their way to the release station. They wore gummi bands, a secret stamp, everything was ok and the truck drivers had not noticed birds that escaped.
    Thanks to the honest fanciers who reported their birds there was a fair race still.
    In 1983 some birds escaped at Brussels and also in 1989 a Dutch fancier got a bird home two days before the release. He had an International winner in his hands then for which Japanese would have paid a fortune but the man was such a good sport that he reported it. A golden watch was his reward.
    In 1990 when the baskets were carried to the truck the bottom fell out from one of them and the whole clubhouse was full of Barcelona racers.
    In 1993 it was the last time that birds escaped, since then only baskets could be used that were 100 percent safe and no accident happened from then on.
  3. Poor condition
    One should expect pigeons entered for such a race are in super shape but unfortunately this is not so. Some so called gold diggers who hope the Japanese to come to buy their winner enter pigeons that have no chance at all.
    People who take the birds to Barcelona repeatedly complained about the bad condition of some of them: Wet eyes and feathers that are not tight onto the body.
    Basketing such pigeons is not fair to the birds, they have no chance to win a prize, not to mention to make it home.
    In Barcelona you also see Spanish fanciers with a wire, a net and a stick trying to fish eggs out of the baskets. As if they think all Belgian and Dutch birds are supers. In 1990 no less than 121 eggs were found. What a shame. Only fools basket birds, which are about to lay eggs.

The alert reader may have noticed that some years were skipped. It is not because I do not respect the winners or their birds but I just have to make choices in order to make this series not too long and boring.
But history has to be written and for those who were bored I have good news. This is THE END.