Why is it that Germany does not organise any races of 650 to 800km anymore? We might find an answer among the numerous pigeon fanciers who go out and release their pigeons for nothing more than the shorter middle distance every day. But that is a different story altogether.
Let us focus on Rutz & Sons instead, who have been one the very best long distance fanciers for years. They live in Blieskastel, a city in Bundesland Saarland, about 15km southwest of district capital Homburg and 25km east of state capital Saarbrücken. Blieskastel has about 22,000 inhabitants, three of which make up the Rutz & Sons racing team.
The Rutz & Sons pigeon loft consists of father Karl-Heinz (67) and his two sons Sven and Jens. Their father is no longer actively involved in the pigeon loft due to health problems but he can always count on his twin sons. They are both 34 years old. Perhaps the most important person in the Rutz family, and not only in the pigeon loft, is their mother Adelheid. She has been looking after the pigeons in the early morning for the past several years. Anything the two sons could not manage before they head to work was taken care of by their mother. Unfortunately this is no longer possible because she is very ill at the moment. This means Sven and Jens have to do everything by themselves, although the health of their father and mother is obviously way more important than the pigeon family.
The pigeons are kept in a loft in their parents' garden but the two sons live quite close to their parents.
The Rutz family has about 230 pigeons in winter, including 70 racing birds raced in total widowhood.
It has been one of the toughest races from Barcelona in history. The pigeons were underway a long time, perhaps too long. A pack of 17,094 pigeons were released in Barcelona at 9:05am on Friday 7th of July 2017. Not a single pigeon managed to get home on the day of the release. There was only a mild wind in France on Friday, with temperatures rising up to 30°C. Pigeon fanciers awaited their pigeons early on Saturday morning but to no avail. It took a long time for the first pigeon to be clocked, with the first pigeon eventually arriving at 11:08am. Fred and Yann Ungerer from Seebach in France clocked their first pigeon after 955km with a velocity of 802 m/min. Their racing hen would eventually finish in second place at international level, which says something about how the race went. The second arrival came about an hour later in the loft of Bernard Weishaar from Durrenbach (939km), another French town in the Elsass region. The third pigeon would eventually claim the international victory; this racing bird comes from Standaardbuiten in The Netherlands. She was clocked by Leon Roks at 12:58 after covering 1,148km with a velocity of 882 m/min. The third international prize was won by Hubert Stollenwerk from Eschweiler in Germany; his pigeon was clocked at 14:23 after covering 1,094km. The national winner in Belgium is Marc Cooman from Uitbergen (East Flanders). His pigeon was clocked at 14:36 after completing 1,077km with a velocity of 770.24 m/min.
The 2017 race will go down in history as the most difficult Barcelona classic of the 21st century so far, with no more than two pigeons reaching a velocity of over 800 m/min. It reminds us of the Barcelona race of 30 years ago, back in 1987, when Chretien Vanoppen from Belgium claimed victory with the only pigeon that was faster than 800 m/min (802 to be precise).
Exceptional: Rutz & Sons in Barcelona
Rutz & Sons had basketed 37 pigeons for Barcelona, and these have won 25 prizes both at national and international level. Their first pigeons arrived home and the rest of the team followed in quick succession. 16 pigeons were back home on the second day. This is quite remarkable, considering that many fanciers were glad to have at least one arrival on the second day. Here is a look at the times of arrival of the best pigeons of Rutz & Sons: 13:52 - 15:13 - 17:41 - 17:56 - 18:05 - 18:09 - 18:23 - 18:32 - 18:32 - 19:07 - 20:16 - 20:29 - 20:35 - 21:06 - 21:09 and 21:45. This is a remarkable feat. Keep in mind many prizes were won even on the third day of the race.
Sadly enough we still have no national or international results on the day of publication, 28th of July. This is unacceptable in this day and age, where we can monitor almost anything using information processing tools and the internet. Apparently this technology is not available anywhere.
But back to Rutz & Sons. They win the following prizes against about 350 pigeons in the zone: 3-5-14-15-17-18-19-21-22-25-37-38-40-45-47-50-61. And here are the results at national level against 1,202 pigeons: 7-9-29-30-35-36-41-43-44-49-64-67-69-77-79-84-111-151-153.
Like we said, the team wins 25 international prizes with 37 pigeons, a top class performance. Last year they also managed to win 25 prizes with only 32 pigeons.
It is worth notnig that their colleague Ernst Markus wins a 2nd and 14th national Barcelona with descendants of Rutz & Sons (Angelina).
A closer look at the Barcelona champions
Racing bird 0709-14-49 and winner of a 7th National is a daughter of Little Hero 0709-07-4, which was very successful in the extreme long distance as well. He originates from Basil and Jana, which both have an excellent pedigree as well. The dam of the 49 is a daughter of Stella, winner of a 2nd National Barcelona 2004.
The 9th National Barcelona was won by 0709-14-145, a daughter of Toruk 0709-07-129, which is in turn a son of a 1st International Pau 2006. The 145's dam is Falballa, a very successful racing hen in the international races.
The third best pigeon is racing hen 0709-13-894, which finished in 29th place national. She has an excellent pedigree as well: her sire is 0709-09-562, a great breeding bird and sire of many talented descendants. Her dam is 0709-12-711, an outstanding breeding hen and the dam of many successful racing birs.
Long story short: the pigeon loft in Blieskastel is home to quite a collection of top class racing birds. And as always, Rutz & Sons breed from nothing but the best.
Their very best results at international level:
1st International Pau 2006 1st International Bordeaux 2005 YLs 2nd International Barcelona 2003 2nd International Barcelona Hens 2003 3rd International Agen YLs 2016 4th International St. Vincent Hens 2016 5th International Tarbes Hens 2009 6th International Barcelona Hens 2004 7th International Bordeaux YLs 2004 7th International Tarbes 2009
National wins in recent years
1st National Pau 2015 1st National Barcelona 2003 1st National Barcelona 2008 1st National Bordeaux 2005 1st National Carcassonne YLs 2005 1st National Pau 2006 1st National Bordeaux YLs 2005 1st National Barcelona Hens 2005 1st National Barcelona Hens 2008
Achievements with Rutz pigeons 2012-2017
1st Nat. Marseille Hens 2012 1st Nat. Marseille 2015 1st Nat. Marseille Hens 2015 1st Int. Marseille 2012 1st Nat. Marseille UK England 2012 1st Int. Ace Pigeon 2012 over 2 races 1st Nat. Barcelona FR Hens 2012 1st Interprov. Perpignan 2012 1st Nat. Marseille FR 2012 1st prov. Pau 2012 1st Nat. Primus Inter Pares Barcelona 2009-2013 1st Nat. Pau Hens 2014 1. Nat. Marseille 2016 1st Nat. Ace Hen Long Distance 2016 2nd Nat. Marseille 2012 2nd Nat. Ace Hen 2014 2nd Nat. Barcelona 2017 3rd Nat. Ace Hen National Marathon 2015 3rd Nat. Marseille 2016 2nd Nat. St. Vincent Hens 2015 3rd Nat. Narbonne Hens 2015 3rd regional Narbonne 2012 3rd Nat. St. Vincent Hens 2013 4th Nat. Marseille 2015 4th Nat. Marseille Hens 4th Nat. Ace Hen 2015 4th Nat. St. Vincent 2013 4th Nat. Pau 2014 5th Nat. St. Vincent Hens 2013 5th Nat. Marseille Hens 2015 5th Nat. Narbonne 2015 5th prov. Pau 2013 6th Nat. Marseille 2015 6th Int. Ace Pigeon 2012 6th Nat. Pau 2015 7th Nat. St. Vincent 2013 7th Nat. Narbonne 2015 7th prov. Barcelona 2013 7th Nat. Marseille 2014 8th Nat. Narbonne 2014 8th Nat. St. Vincent 2015 8th Nat. Marseille 2015 9th Nat. Marseille 2015