by George Wheatman
Tension mounts & excitement grows this week as the North Road Championship Club hold their prestigious Unikon Lerwick "Kings Cup" Race from the Shetland Islands located in the middle of the North Sea. by Michael Britton
Visit Shetland at any time of year and you'll be enchanted by the rugged beauty of the Landscape, it's dramatically changing colours and textures which will take your breath away. That is what the tourist brochures tell you, but to the dedicated glory-seeking pigeon fancier it is the Capital of the Shetland Isles that captures the imagination.
Lerwick creates legends and breaks hearts in equal proportion, it is the North Road fanciers? "Everest" or "Barcelona of the North" and the time to climb it comes once a year for North Road Championship Club members.
The magic for fanciers is that they will have a Lerwick pigeon in their lofts at the end of the race, the dream is that it will have won the race and, in doing so, receive the coveted King?s Cup presented to the Club by His Majesty King George V.
Those dreams are still alive right now for the iconic race is scheduled for this Saturday July 6th. After that date we shall know whose dreams have been shattered and who has stories of heroism to tell!
Lerwick is not for the faint hearted, pigeon or fancier.
Shetland lies 600 miles (960km) North of London. More than a hundred islands, just 15 of them inhabited, span the hundred miles (145km) between Fair Isle and Out Stack, the northernmost point of Britain.
It is a long way back to NRCC territory and the journey, governed as it is by the vagaries of British weather, is full of hazards including flying over a potential 300 plus miles (482km) of cold North Sea (red route on map):
Any pigeon that masters the challenge will be a supreme athlete of the air and will have been prepared by a master pigeon fancier.
The 652 birds entered for this year?s race by 125 members will soon be boarding the NorthLink Ferry from Aberdeen for the arduous 14-hour journey to the Islands:
We then hope and pray for good weather both on the Island and out in the North Sea to allow our skilled Convoyers Darren Shepherd and Merv Greatrix to liberate the birds out into what can only be described as panoramic skies:
For Fanciers wanting to keep up to date with the race (including viewing the liberation) please visit the Clubs Facebook Page:
And to see the race unfold live just visit the Clubs Provisional Result Page (select 2019 & Lerwick from the drop down lists):