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Joey Gratton New Year’s Day Memorial Fun Run: A Time to Remember

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Heading into its sixth year, the Joey Gratton New Year’s Day Memorial Fun Run is open to everyone. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

Veteran offshore racer Ryan Beckley can’t quite recall when he and his friends in Sarasota, Fla., started their New Year’s Day tradition of skipping college bowl games on television and going boating. Beckley thinks it began “on a bet with a friend 12 or 13 years ago” but can’t be sure. And none of his friends remember, either.

“It’s always fun and we’ve had some really good years, that’s for sure,” said Beckley, the owner of vinyl graphics producer Kinetic Animation in Sarasota. “Even when the weather sucked one year, I think that was probably in 2009, we had at least eight or 10 boats.”

Yet Beckley can instantly recall the event’s biggest year when it attracted 85 powerboats.

“That was in 2011, when (offshore racer) Joey Gratton died less than two months earlier at the Key West World Championships and we named the event in his honor,” said Beckley. “It was a ‘Chamber of Commerce’ day. So our biggest year also was our worst year.”

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