Over 35,000 runners will be taking to the streets of London to run the Virgin Money London Marathon on 24 April 2016, and Cutty Sark has allocated places to five amazing runners who will be raising money to help preserve the ship. Follow them on our blog.

by Kevin Becker

As a young boy, I was fascinated with sail boats. I spent my summers camping in the Adirondacks in Upper New York State, where the lakes are pristine, and everyone has some kind of a boat. Sailboats were always my favourite, and I was amazed at the speed and grace in which they would quickly glide across the lake on a windy day.

At the time, my father had a motor boat, so we enjoyed spending our time out on the lake fishing with the other campers and cottage goers. Each year at the end of the season, they would hold a race – the ‘Wind-up-Regatta’.  My Dad served as the official rescue boat, and I would watch with fascination as the sailors raced the course.

In the summer of 1976, I told my Dad I wanted to race it, to which he replied “but you don’t have a boat”!  Not one to be deterred, I knew that one of our friends on the lake had an old sailboat, so I quickly went to seek his help.

Jim was a former US Navy Captain, with a great love for boats and sailing. When I asked him if he would loan me one of his sailboats to use in the race, he said “sure kid”! I immediately replied with “Thanks Jim, put my name on first place, I’m gonna win the race”! He laughed, and said “you better practice then, because you’ve got competition”!  I spent every day for the next two weeks out on the water in the old borrowed boat.  I was a ‘sailor’, and I took heed of every word Jim uttered on how to read the water and rig my boat for any conditions.

On the day of the race I was so excited. This was official, and I had a boat – I was ‘in’ the action! The course was marked with buoys and the entire lake was ready for this annual Labour Day tradition. The boats lined up and the start-gun was sounded – off we went! The race was a two loop course, and once under way, the other boats quickly began to move ahead. The conditions were constantly changing, but I did my best to hold the little boat steady.  I clung to the sage advice of Captain Jim, and with shifting winds, was careful to read the water and hold my line.  On the 2nd loop, the wind picked up and I held my line, carefully tacking as I had been told.  In the end, I had the fastest ship on the water that day, and won the regatta!  I loved every moment of being on the water and still have the first place trophy.

On that day, my love of sailing and racing came together and the memory will stay with me forever. It taught me that anything is possible, and that each ship has a magnificent story to tell.

Racing the London Marathon to aid in support of the restorations of Cutty Sark is my way of giving back to the joy that sailing brought to my life at an early age.  I hope my actions help make a difference. Visit our JustGiving page at : https://www.justgiving.com/Kev-Kat/ if you would like to support us. Thank you!

Find out more about all of our marathon runners here.