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The noble marathon strain from Antoon (†) and Luci van der Wegen (Steenbergen) The emperors of the extreme long distance !

13 May 2024

Steenbergen: A very typical Dutch city in the province of North-Brabant. You find the ‘peace’ that everyone is looking for. Over there in the Krommeweg n° 34 we have an appointment with Luci van der Wegen. Luci is very emotional. Every memory to her beloved son Hans and her beloved husband Antoon makes the emotions pop up and a tear isn’t far away each time again. Their son Hans left us in 2012 at the age of 47 and Antoon slowly passed away in 2018 when he was 83 years old. Both urns are placed in the living room and for Luci both Hans and Antoon are still a part of her daily live. Only their shadow has been taken away behind the clouds. 

From the porch you have a nice view on the unique lofts that are still being taken care of very thoroughly. Dog Kimmi keeps an eye on everything and is very alert towards every visitor. The lofts are empty…not a single feather to be found. Luci took care of them for many years after that Antoon passed away. Their ‘pigeons’ that made the name van der Wegen world famous. Their ‘pigeons’ that don’t like anything more than fight against all-weather phenomenon’s like wind and heath to get safely to their beloved home base. Their ‘pigeons’ that made them so proud. But all the work and a few attempts to break in made that Luci called in the professional care of the Herbots family to have their pigeons shine for one last time. Luci wants to give the international pigeon world the opportunity to buy one or more of their pigeons. The class of the van der Wegen pigeons can and will shine on, that’s what’s Luci is convinced of. 

Antoon was the pigeon fancier 

Antoon was always very straight forward…he gave his opinion unsalted and short.

Luci puts her finger up in the air and says with a bit louder voice…’write it down…Antoon was the pigeon fancier, not me. He could couch his widowersteam like nobody else could. I was always by Antoon’s side waiting for the pigeons to get home and in a certain way he was also coaching me. Together we became a perfect team. For Antoon all pigeons were alike. Both those that won as those who came in exhausted hours later. That’s why Antoon didn’t want to be in a picture with one particular pigeon. For him they were all champions. Only with ‘Turbo’ (1st National Pau) he posed to show his wing. Antoon only wanted to have composition pictures from his pigeons. As many pigeons with results as possible in one picture as they made the name van der Wegen famous all together. A nice anecdote is that once Antoon called me onto the loft and gave me a pigeon that just had arrived…and said…’Luus, feel how good this cocks feels after the race’…yes…this was enjoying pigeon sport together and such moments will I treasure for ever and eternity. And if it there was a moment that it didn’t go all that well Antoon said ‘Luus…straiten your back and go on’…and he was right ! 

The “Donkere duivin” NL55-497392 

As we like to explore the strain building of the van der Wegen pigeons we need to consult the already published literature from Antoon and Luci. Nevertheless not that many articles about this classful marathon colony could be found. ‘Antoon didn’t like to be in the spotlight’ is what Luci tells us.  

Antoon, the son to Adrianus van der Wegen, got to know pigeon sport from childhood on. Although the pigeons from father Adrianus never had an influence on the current strain of the pigeons. Antoon bought his base breeding mother, a dark hen, at Tinus van Meer. Tinus moved and that’s why he sold all his pigeons. The dark base hen had ring number 55-497392 . Her father came from Antoon Stoffelen, who had Aarden pigeons on his loft. The mother came from Rombouts, a hairdresser of profession but an owner of Aarden pigeons. The dark hen showed herself first on the races at Antoon (max. 400km). But Antoon got the idea together with his father to race the long distance races so she was raced on St. Vincent where she won a late prize. After that she went to Dax and won the 11th National. Another year later she won 5th National Dax. Antoon’s hunger wasn’t stilled yet and raced her again on St. Vincent, we are speaking of the year 1960. The ‘Dark Hen’ died on the field of honour. 

“Oud Doffertje” NL58-3147753 

At grocery owner Antoon Lightenberg, Antoon got a couple of eggs. He could choose and to the marvel of the owner, Antoon pointed out to the couple of eggs that were in the box at the left top of the corner…a loft where, as it used to be like that in those days, both the racers and breeders were mixed up amongst each other. Antoon Lightenberg tried to get of the deal as this couple of eggs was already promised to someone else, but this was without the consideration of Antoon. ‘When we get to choose…we get to choose without any excuses’.

Out of the eggs he got two cocks. With one very small, smart cock who became world famous as ‘Oud Doffertje’. ‘Oud Doffertje’ was coupled against “De Donkere duivin” as he was of the smaller type and she was of the bigger type. The coupling “Oud Doffertje” x “Donkere duivin” was a “Bulls Eye”… everything that came out was super. We’re thinking of the “86” (12, 80 and 96 National St. Vincent – 19and 34 national Dax) – “De Lamme” (winner to 6th nat. St. Vincent , 7, 10 and 11 national Dax) – “Nestzus De Lamme” (28 and 43 nat. St. Vincent).
Unfortunately the “Donkere duivin” stayed behind on her last race…who knows what would have come out of this golden coupling. 

“De oude 75” NL57-704975 

Another hen that gave a lot of joy to Antoon was “De oude 75”… a half-sister to the “Donkere duivin”. Both had the “Rombouts hen” as mother. And seen that the “donkere duivin” was lost, the  “De oude 75” was being coupled to “Oud Doffertje” and also this stuck like butter on bread. Known children were “52” (won: 2 nat. Bergerac – 35, 39, 68 national Dax and 76 Nat. St. Vincent), “De Witpen”, “De Schrale”, “De 74” and “Oud Donkertje” 

But it all started with the “Barcelona” (NL65-2023862) 

The “Barcelona” … a super that won in ’73, in very hard weather circumstances, the 1st National Barcelona against 1,101b and this at the age of 8 years ! No coincidence as he already won before this 2nd National Dax against 2,969b and the 5th National Barcelona against 1,238b. Three weeks before Barcelona he won 14th National St.Vincent against 6,206b! Speaking of class. Once on the breeding loft he gave his unique genes onwards to his children and grandchildren. 
His father is the former mentioned “Lamme” (NL60-252162 – a son to “Oud Doffertje” x “Donkere duivin”) , his mother the “Gruyters-duivin”. 
The “Gruyters-duivin” was bought together with her brother the “Gruyters-doffer” at the total sale of Huub Gruyters from Helmond in ’64. Huub had pigeons from his good Belgian friend Hector Desmet from Geraardsbergen who he got to know during prisoning in war. After they were released they went to look for each other and Huub went home with off spring of the famous Desmet pigeons “De Prins” and the “Libourne”.
When the “Gruyters-doffer” was coupled to the “Zuster Lamme” (NL60-252161 – a full sister to the 1st  nat. Dax), this couple gave the unrivalled “75-duivin” (67-2057675). This hen was coupled during 3 years to her grandfather “Oud Doffertje” and off spring had a very important role in the appearance of the “van der Wegen strain” 

The last heroes 

As we noted at the beginning of the report, Antoon passed away in 2018. It's more than logical that we can't record recent results but that doesn't do anything about the breeding qualities this is more than interwoven in the DNA of the van der Wegen birds. 

The last top birds that made Antoon proud are: 

“Donkeren Barcelona”, winner of:

    25     Nat. Perpignan ‘93       7,580b.

    48     Internat. Perpignan     18,447b.

    34     Nat. Perpignan ‘91       8,102b.

    63     Internat. Perpignan     27,167b.

    49     Bergerac                     2,488b.

    65     Nat. Perpignan            3,448b.

  191     Nat. Perpignan ‘89       2,975b.

  206     Nat. Perpignan ‘92       6,070b.

  222     Nat. Barcelona ‘94       7,767b.

  388     Nat. Barcelona ‘93     10,574b.

  206     Nat. Perpignan ’92       6,070b.

  222     Nat. Barcelona ’94       7,767b.

  388     Nat. Barcelona ’93     10,574b.


“De Stek”, winner of:

     1     Nat. Dax ’99                4,108b.

    19     Internat. Dax ’99        12,880b.

     3     Bordeaux ‘98               1,584b.

    39     Limoges ’98                1,981b.


 “De Turbo”, winner of:

     1     Nat. Pau ’88                1,777b.

    26     Internat. Pau                5,411b.

    12     Nat. Pau ’89                1,972b.

  417     Chateauroux              12,388b.


“Den Euro” winner of:

     1     Dax ’95                          822b.

     3     St. Vincent ‘96             1,821b.

    35     Internat. St. Vincent   19,876b.

     6     St. Vincent ’95             2,162b.

    54     Internat. St. Vincent   25,041b.



“De Barca”, winner of:

    18     Barcelona ’00                 801b.

  184     Nat. Barcelona            7,568b.

    71     Nat. Barcelona ’98       6,290b.

  164     Internat. Barcelona     24,139b.

  345     Nat. Barcelona ’97       7,047b.


“Zoon Marathon”, winner of:

    40     Nat. Barcelona ’97       7,047b.

  102     Internat. Barcelona     24,908b.

    89     Nat. Perpignan            3,815b.

  129     Nat. Perpignan            3,785b.

  167     Nat. Barcelona            6,290b.


“De Marathon”, winner of:

     8     Nat. Barcelona ’93     10,574b.

    12     Internat. Barcelona     33,145b.


“De Beer”, winner of:

     1     Nat. Marseille ’88         2,087b.


 “Lucia”, winner of:

     6     Internat. Perpignan hens

    30     Internat. Perpignan     13,573b.

  104     Nat. St. Vincent         27,296b.

  212     Nat. Barcelona            7,243b.


 “De Perpignan”, winner of:

     2     Nat. Perpignan ’90       3,242b.

     7     Internat. Perpignan     10,444b.

    25     Nat. Barcelona            5,451b.

    47     Internat. Barcelona     21,194b.

  106     Nat. Marseille              2,087b.        


“Witpen Barcelona”, winner of:

     1     Barcelona ’08                 688b.

    10     Nat. Barcelona            7,073b.

    28     Internat. Barcelona     23,708b.

    36     Nat. Narbonne             2,563b.

  178     Nat. Perpignan            5,294b.

  225     Nat. Perpignan            6,507b.

  333     Nat. Perpignan            5,622b.

  508     Nat. Barcelona            8,042b.