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The Backyard Marathon Challenge Part 5





by John Ghent

Momentum is gathering and the excitement is increasing all the time as we edge ever closer to 2013 and the "Backyard Marathon Challenge" is in full flow as we head towards the New Year and Blackpool. The amount of friendships that I have made in the last 3 months, many of which I hope to cultivate over a beer in the Winter Gardens, since I started writing these articles is phenomenal and I cannot thank people enough for the support and feedback that I have had so far.

So the question is, where are we now? Well... I am delighted to announce that a BBC marking station is currently being pursued in the west of Leicestershire. The main reasons for putting this together are to open up the opportunities for more middle to long distance racing in the Midlands area and to compliment the MNFC's programme. I thoroughly believe that as we sit here now the MNFC is currently the best run club in the country, the only thing I believe that it lacks is enough genuine distance in its race programme with only Tours and Bordeaux extending beyond 300 miles to Leicester for example. I do however understand that the more Northern sections do need to be taken into account when putting programmes together and I imagine it cannot be easy. Massive thanks must go to Scott Summers, Gary Marsh, Mick O'Rourke, Malc Slater, Lance Summers, Derek Lietch, Alistair Ewart and anybody else that attended the meeting to get this venture off the ground. We have another meeting scheduled for Wednesday January 9th at The Brant Inn to really confirm the logistics and start to get any new applications for the BBC processed as smoothly as possible. We are basically looking at Wednesday night marking with a pick up on either Wednesday night or Thursday morning. It is looking like we will be marking at Louella Pigeon World and I would like to thank Michael Massarella for not hesitating at all when I put the suggestion to him about having the station there. I have come to know over the years that Michael and the rest of the family are huge assets to this sport of ours and are only too willing to help when they can. Once again they have come to the assistance of the fancy and all concerned are very grateful I can assure you.

From a selfish point of view we should have some excellent prep races in place for my onslaught of Barcelona and as I always say, anybody interested in discussing the Holy Grail need only drop me a line, as many have already done, and I am excited at competing alongside all of you in this challenge of a lifetime!

The winter is taking its toll and we have had some cold days, even in the city. It is a chore getting those drinkers usable for the birds and it always feels damp outside, and even in the lofts to a certain extent. Bring back the spring I say. Fortunately I only have a small set up and as I said in previous article, my grandma is helping out massively with the stock birds and I would not be able to do it without her, or my uncle Gaz who is also of constant assistance with the birds at the grandparents.

My birds are now on open loft through the daylight hours, all 7 hours of them if we are lucky, and one of the advantages of being a city dweller is that I do not suffer as much at the minute from the BOP problem. Even if I did, there are countless feral pigeons around where I live so it would be a little unlucky if one of mine got struck although I did drop one off the loft a few weeks ago which was quite strange. I am in the process of developing an aviary to join my two lofts together to keep old and young together but it is slow going as whenever I am at home it is dark at the minute so the Xmas holidays should give me the opportunity to get some more work done in the garden, which I am really looking forward to although I am sure I will find something else to do once the aviary is done. You know what it is like!

Keep your eyes peeled for more information on the BBC marking station in the coming weeks and some exciting articles highlighting some local fanciers that I hope will be looking to make their mark in the coming season within the BBC.

John Ghent

83, Newport Street



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