Gerard Koopman (Ermerveen, NL) claims title of 1st National Champion marathon not nominated 2016

The phenomenal champion Gerard Koopman has proven to be outstanding in the most demanding competition in pigeon racing as well, having just won the title of national marathon champion.

Gerard Koopman, 1st National Champion marathon not nominated 2016

The marathon

Gerard Koopman knows his way around the marathon competition, the discipline in which he has just won a national championship title. The fancier from Ermerveen had already won two first prizes in the sector from Ruffec and St. Vincent back in 2004, both with NL00-1211188 Miss Waalre. Gerard then went on to win a 1st National/International St. Vincent against over 26,000 pigeons with NL05-1936560 Miss Maniwan, a granddaughter of Miss Waalre. Seven years ago Gerard decided to return to the marathon competition. He has been working hard to create a long distance pigeon breed capable of competing at the highest level. His national marathon title and his achievements in 2016 show that he is well on his way to reaching his goal.

1st National Champion Marathon not nominated 2016 

The national championship marathon is based on your four best results across five national/sectoral marathon races. Fanciers gain points with their sectoral results, which is sector 4 in the case of Gerard Koopman. This is an overview of his results in the five marathon races that count for the championship:

18-06 St.-Vincent   1172 km – 962 p. 4-13-15-23-57-61-72-87-125-208-237 (11/18)
      Times of arrival:       14.06-14.31-14.36-14.47-15.25-15.33-15.39-15.49-16.11-
24-06 Perigieux      952 km – 2510 p. 33-61-71-146-161-171-216-451-452 (9/13)
      Times of arrival:       14.39-15.39-15.51-18.57-19.22-19.38-20.12-06.13-06.14
08-07 Albi          1043 km – 1612 p. 5-22-24-33-67-102-103-232-287-321 (10/14)
      Times of arrival:       11.59-12.34-12.38-12.55-13.20-13.39-13.39-14.30-14.58-15.15
15-07 Orange         968 km – 951 p. 5-6-57-64-83-86-112-131-145 (9/11)
      Times of arrival:       06.17-06.28-09.27-09.37-09.58-09.59-10.41-11.16-11.42
29-07 Cahors        1031 km – 1410 p. 9-10-15-21-29-32-64-87-116-117-185-245-281-313-348 (15/16)
      Times of arrival:       10.43-11.06-12.18-12.25-12.36-12.42-13.24-13.45-14.06-14.07-

This championship title is based on early arrivals, great overall results with pigeons arriving home in quick succession, and an impressive 75% prize percentage (1:4). It has been a memorable marathon season for Team Koopman.

NL07-3704851 Red Bullens, phenomenal both as a racing and breeding bird

Red Bullens makes a difference

In his search for pigeons that could enable him to gain success in the marathon discipline, Gerard got in contact with Jan Bullens (Oirschot, NL), a fancier from Brabant. Gerard knew that Jan had an outstanding long distance pigeon in his collection: the NL07-3704851, now called Red Bullens, winner of the following prizes in Province 3:

1st NPO Bergerac 2011 – 4288 p.
2nd NPO Bordeaux 2008 – 5038 p.
2nd NPO Bergerac 2010 – 4651 p.

Red Bullens comes from a proven long distance pigeon breed. His grandfather, NL02-0250685 Den Rooie Duuk, represented The Netherlands in the 2009 Olympiad in Dortmund in the extreme long distance discipline. The pedigree of Red Bullens shows that he is closely related to the legendary NL91-2918041, which won a 6th National St. Vincent and a 69th National Barcelona. Last year Red Bullens moved from Oirschot to Ermerveen, where he quickly developed into an invaluable breeder. Almost every successful racing bird in this loft is closely related to this pigeon. Red Bullens was particularly successful when paired to pigeons of Noël Peiren (Zedelgem, BE). He was also paired with pigeons of Ko van Dommelen (St. Philipsland), Henri Hoeks (Bovensmilde, NL), Jan Hermans (Waalre, NL), and Jos Joosen (Brecht, BE). We will take a closer look at the champions of 2015 but first we return to 2013 and 2014, when two sons of Red Bullens proved very successful.

NL11-1185771 Noël, 1st Ace Pigeon Long Distance Club Noord-Nederland 2013


The first son of Red Bullens that showed to be a first class marathon pigeon was NL11-1185771 Noël. He won the 2013 ace pigeon championship in long distance club Noord-Nederland, and his palmares includes a 2nd National Cahors 977 p., a 24th Limoges 1051 p. and a 24th Bergerac 929 p. His sire Red Bullens was paired to BE10-3172671 Peiren 671, a daughter of NL05-3219211 Nika, a daughter of which managed to win a 1st International Soustons against 10,947 pigeons in 2009. Noël was the first exponent of the successful crossing of Red Bullens with the lines of Noël Peiren. The full pedigree of Noël can be found here.

NL12-1076994 Leonidas, 1st National Ace Pigeon Marathon WHZB/TBOTB 2014


One year later (in 2014), another son of Red Bullens came to the fore in the national WHZB/TBOTB competition, winning the title of 1st National Ace Pigeon marathon. Racing bird NL12-1076994 Leonidas won the race from St. Vincent (523 p.), while finishing in 2nd place from Bergerac (1739 p.) and in 24th place from Limoges (1108 p.). The dam of Leonidas is NL08-3855044 Miss Anke. Her sire won the title of 2nd Golden Barcelona Pigeon between 2001 and 2004, and her dam even won a 1st National Barcelona (in The Netherlands) against 7491 pigeons in 2005. You can find the full pedigree of Leonidas here.

NL12-4703485 26th National Ace Pigeon Marathon 2016


Different youngsters and grandchildren of Red Bullens enabled Gerard to win his national championship title in 2016.


Red Bullens' son NL12-4703485 played a crucial role, finishing in 26th place at the national ace pigeon championship marathon. These are his best results in the year 2016 (in sector 4):

Albi           5 – 1612 p.
Cahors        29 – 1410 p.
St.-Vincent   72 –  962 p.

The dam of this new champion (see pedigree) is NL01-1135661 Sadira. She is a sister of the aforementioned Miss Waalre, which had a great season in 2014 winning two first prizes in the sector.

NL14-4750769, 6th Orange sector 4

NL14-4750769 Broer Noël

Another son of Red Bullens managed to win a prize in three different marathon races in 2016 as well. The NL14-4750769 won his best result in Orange, the only marathon race with a morning release (07:15am). The 14/769, which is a brother of Noël, arrived home the following morning at 06:28, claiming a 6th prize in Sector 4 against 951 pigeons. In his first marathon race of 2016 from Perigieux he even managed to return home at 06:13 in the early morning. You can take a closer look at the pedigree of the 14/769 here.

NL14-4750653 De Staart, 5th Orange Sector 4 and 9th Cahors Sector 4

De staart

The last pigeon to be featured in this article is NL14-4750653 De Staart. He is a son of Noël and thus a grandson of Red Bullens. You can browse the pedigree of De Staart here. His name (Dutch for tail) stems from the fact that he returned home from the race from Limoges having lost almost his entire tail. De Staart managed to win a sectoral top prize in three different national marathon races as well. Gerard was particularly pleased with his last two races, Orange (5th against 951 pigeons) and Cahors (1410 p.). It explains why Gerard has considered moving him to the breeding loft earlier than scheduled.

A brief look at his approach

He started the 2015 season with 25 pairs that are raced in double widowhood. The oldest pigeons in the racing team were born in 2012. The marathon team was paired in late February and they are allowed to raise their own youngster. They cannot see their partner during the season, not even at the end of a race. The different pairs are reunited every Wednesday to be released together and to spend some time together. The marathon pigeons are raced on a weekly basis up until the third week of May, to enable them to gain some rhythm. Gerard breeds three different rounds of youngsters for the marathon races. The early round of youngsters completes the entire program, and they are basketed for Bergerac as yearlings. A round of summer youngsters and late youngsters are bred as well; they enjoy a relaxed first year without a stressful young birds' season. During the winter those young birds have to complete as many miles as possible around the loft. Their training starts in March, and they are basketed for a number of sprint and middle distance races before tackling their first one day long distance race.

Veni, vidi, vici

Veni, vidi, vici could well be the motto of Gerard Koopman as a pigeon fancier. He is determined to claim victory in every race he competes in, including the national marathon races. A job well done.