Established 1979 Company Number: 11693988 VAT Registration Number: 284 0522 13 +44 (0)1606 836036 +44 (0)7871 701585

Backyard Marathon Challenge October 2014 Update






October 2014 Update

The clocks have gone back, the nights are dark, we get to feed our birds for 5 minutes, check their health and then off to work we go, not to be seen in the garden again until the next morning. I am sure this pattern is similar for fanciers the length and breadth of the country, it is an all too familiar set up for me! That said, next year's races are won in the winter months, so meticulous health is key for our champions of the sky and the planning of next year's onslaught begins in earnest!

As for the Backyard Marathon Challenge, what a funny old year it has been. In my last article, having just read it back to myself, I finished off having sent 3 to Ancenis, one being the red grizzle cock for the 6th race of his life at 365 miles. Well, Ancenis turned out again to be fairly tough, like many channel races this year, but I ended up with all 3, they all lived to fight another season. Now, in theory that was my old bird season finished apart from an 85 mile club race for a few yearling latebreds alongside the young birds in an any age race. This particular race turned into a most ridiculous affair with mass shortages at clock checking despite the winners doing over 60mph. I subsequently spat my dummy out and bowed never to race young birds again, the losses do not make sense to me and I now have a team of old pigeons, with a good number of those not seeing the race basket as babies but still doing the channel as yearlings so young bird racing is now off the agenda. Anyway, following that race and the fact that I still had too many pigeons for next year, especially with me deciding to call it day with the babies, I made a very spontaneous decision, which is not like me at all! BICC Falaise was a few weeks away and I decided to have a go. I had 6 for it. A grizzle hen which had not been in the basket since MNFC Carentan at the end of May, a mealy hen which had been to 150 miles but never over the channel, 3 more hens which had only been to the 85 mile any age race and a cock which had done the same as the three hens. I gave them one 30 mile toss south and at the start of September my Uncle was going to Skegness so away the 6 went, about 65 miles north east. They went up at 8.:00am and I had one on the day! The other 5 came the next day and on the Wednesday night I was at Russell Bradford's and they were in the basket for Falaise, all except the cock who had damaged his tail on the Skegness outing, too many donkey rides I guess!

Saturday came and the liberation took place with north east winds around. "Here we to again" I thought. And I was right! A very challenging affair took place, and here I was with 5 inexperienced yearlings in the BICC, the only person sending from Leicester - I must be mad! My good friend Gaz Marsh came to sit with me as the hours went by and I could see that not many had verified, darkness settled and that was that! The alarm was set for early the next morning and I was on tenterhooks, still only 2 or 3 verifications in our Section! I was due to be going out for the day with my girls so I was in the kitchen making a picnic and then....."beep beep"......the ETS went off! Just to show how small my garden really is, my ETS clock is in my kitchen and the cable runs out the back window into the loft! I raced for the clock, the knife hit the floor, food everywhere. GOT ONE! The hen from Carentan that hadn't been in the basket since May, a 30 mile toss, one from Skegness and then into the race, belter! I dived outside to check her and there she was. I was over the moon! I clocked the mealy hen later that morning and whilst I was at Paul Stokes getting my clock done I got one of the hens that was having her 2nd ever race. I verified 5th Section and finished 10th and 11th Section, one of the longest flyers in the race - what a great finish to the season. Turns out all 5 came with a red hen being the last one on the Wednesday.

10th North Centre Section BICC Falaise Old Bird National for me

This open hole "Super Natural" method of racing/keeping pigeons keeps surprising me. Confidence is growing by the week and Barcelona keeps getting closer and closer. 2015 will be exciting. The team is starting to come together now and the prospect of me sending to my first 500+ mile event since getting back into the sport in 2015, in the build-up to sending to Barcelona, is making me feel weak at the knees. I have seen numerous mentions in the press about this style of racing and I don't think the club and fed sprint man can quite get his head around it - I know I struggle sometimes. I can also understand why a high percentage of fanciers cannot commit to the marathon side of the sport. The patience required is ridiculous! I am now 2 years into this story and I have competed in one race! I have sent to many more but only actually been competitive in one, and that was the last BICC race which I had never originally planned to send to! Being totally focused on your goal, having patience with your birds, and doing things away from the norm seems to be the way to go for this marathon focus. With that in mind, and to prevent any distractions from the goal, I am no longer racing in the club and have resigned from all forms of club and federation racing. The birds will be trained and whilst I may use the odd open race, the plan is to get them over the water for every race they ever have. I have also come away from all Internet forums. I believe the Internet plays it's part in moving our sport forward but it finally sunk in that whilst using the forums for liberation news and information is great, the social aspect seems to be full of aggression and strong opinions which are met with anger or doubt. I just don't need the hassle! You will never change somebody's opinion on something they feel passionately about so I think to myself, "why even try?"

The birds are now all split, plans are being made for pairing up next year and which races will be targeted! I have noticed that some race programmes have already been released, and as soon as the others are released then the real planning can start. My season won't start until the end of May next year which will be nice, more time to enjoy the birds and get them ready for their battles ahead. And of course, Blackpool isn't far away! I am really looking forward to catching up with some friends that I have spoken with in the last two years so for me January cannot come soon enough. Have a good off-season everyone, and as always, here is a thought provoking quote to sum up my season and the progress of the Backyard Marathon Challenge.

"Progress, of the best kind, is comparatively slow. Great results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to progress in life as we walk, step by step." Samuel Smiles


John Ghent

83, Newport Street



This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Elimar - October 2014