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Wouter Joma - A Marathon Flyer
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Before I introduce the subject of this article i.e. a fancier from Holland who is perhaps the greatest marathon flyer in Europe at present if not in the world I would like to make a few points arising from comments read and heard recently. Comments such as 'The sport should be restricted to short and middle distance racing because beyond that is the realm of the plodders or merely homers' or, ' At least in the sprint races the pigeons are adhering to what defines them i.e. 'racers' rather than meanderers'. Now I'm an upholder of the concept which many humans suffered and died for over the centuries i.e. 'freedom of speech' but, if that freedom is tainted with untruth then I will use that freedom to combat lies whether deliberately or innocently expressed.Before I introduce the subject of this article i.e. a fancier from Holland who is perhaps the greatest marathon flyer in Europe at present if not in the world I would like to make a few points arising from comments read and heard recently. Comments such as 'The sport should be restricted to short and middle distance racing because beyond that is the realm of the plodders or merely homers' or, ' At least in the sprint races the pigeons are adhering to what defines them i.e. 'racers' rather than meanderers'. Now I'm an upholder of the concept which many humans suffered and died for over the centuries i.e. 'freedom of speech' but, if that freedom is tainted with untruth then I will use that freedom to combat lies whether deliberately or innocently expressed.

Thus it is my contention whether a race is 150 miles, 350 miles, or 750 miles in distance that those birds flying to get home are racing each other. Of course depending upon the distance and weather realities the racing pace for each distance will not be uniform for reason dictates that in normal circumstances the speed of a winner at 150 miles will be faster than the speed of the 350 mile winner, as the latter will be faster than the 750 mile winner. But each is flying at a certain speed which is the essence of racing therefore it is false to state or imply that the candidates in the long distance and marathon races are not 'Racers'. A pigeon arriving from Barcelona at a distance of say 800 miles has to cover that distance as it flies at so many yards or metres per minute, in other words that is its speed for the duration of its fly. If its velocity is bigger than that of the bird a few miles away then it is racing better than the other and therefore occupies a higher position in the result.

Thus in normal circumstances the pigeon that wins a race at the short distance in a couple of hours is a racer but so is the Barcelona arrival the next morning although an aspect of nature i.e. nightfall has stopped the longer distance pigeon on its journey. A stoppage which adds to the problems of the bird arising from spending the night against whatever weather elements prevailing including the possibility of night and/or morning predators and the sheer physical effort required to get aloft again the next day, in many cases without food or water. Of course the term 'slow' has been used against the marathon flyers but that is a reality arising from the distance to be covered and the phenomenon of time. Give me a choice and Ill take the longer distance winner at all times as would those who castigate the so called plodders for as well as their speed over the decades of miles they require stamina as well as intelligence to traverse against the odds. In other words they are bred for this type of racing and we shall have a look at a person who is a master at it, a unique manager of the marathon thoroughbreds known as Wouter Jorna.

Wouter Jorna is from Hippolytushoef in the Netherlands, a place miles beyond Amsterdam in the north of the country. It lies on a crown of land which forms the west bank of the Ijsselmeer and the east bank of the Waddenzee. It is a relatively desolate place and the prevailing winds buffet all that travels through it and after hundreds of miles of flight it takes the most courageous of pigeons to traverse it. And what is Wouter's measurements from Barcelona- wait for it- a staggering 1308 kms that is 817 miles. What a breed!

Apparently the core of Jornas stock are the bloodlines of Nico Volkens, Jan Theelen and the old Aarden blood of Bas Batenburg. Our subject sent 14 pigeons last year (2004) to the Barcelona International and registered considering the distance perhaps the best ever racing performance in the history of the sport.
From the number sent Jorna timed in 9 (7 hens and 2 cock birds) from a convoy of 25,000 birds. Those nine in the official result occupied the following positions: 42nd, 128th, 526th, 754th, 807th, 1,538 th, 3,770 th, 4,759 th, and 5,247 th. And for those who castigate as I have referred too above this class of pigeon the following times of each pigeons arrival confirm that they were racing 1132, 1213, 1255, 1307, 1310,1338,
1459, 1541, and 1605 hrs. Jornas arrivals were in the top 25 percent.
Yes, some flying!

As well as the bird registering 42nd in the International it was 17th International Hens from 6,903 of that sex participating. Another interesting fact which confirms the quality of these thoroughbreds and their condition as well as the expert managerial ability of Wouter Jorna is that the race was the second trip to the Spanish race point for the bird which scored 807th. This pigeon a hen born in 1998 was 260th Open in 2003 flying against more than 20,000 other birds. No inspite of the disparagers these are blue blooded thoroughbreds were luck does not play a part as they race to their home lofts confirming that they are the aristocrats of the pigeon world.

The achievements of Wouter Jornas pigeons over 800 miles in 2004 are simply mind boggling and in this brief insight chosen deliberately I hope that its confirms the thesis which prefaced this article. Those who express such silly statements as those in our first paragraph should reflect upon the wonder of the marathon racer
and the managerial ability of its manager. In this case both are unique!

Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain
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