Iconic Miami Runner Raven to Run His 110,000th Mile Despite Increasing Health Problems

Categories: Art, History
Brian Smith Photography
Robert "Raven" Kraft will run his 110,000th mile on Miami Beach August 23.
When I first heard about the Raven, I was fascinated. Most people seem to be. What could keep a man motivated to run eight miles on the same stretch of sand every single day for decades? That's every single day, despite hurricanes, concussions, pneumonia, and pain that stretches into every cell "from hair to toes," as he says -- for 37 years.

On August 23, the total distance covered by Raven's 37-year streak will reach 110,000 miles. He'll have warmed up with his pull-ups and pushups at the outdoor gym at the 9th Street beach and strolled over to the 5th Street lifeguard stand 13,750 times. That's where he meets the pack of runners who will join him for his run each day. Some of these runners are just looking for sporty camaraderie. Others are looking for life answers. And then there are times when no one shows up, and the Raven starts his daily voyage alone.

On the surface, it's an amazing story of dedication to athleticism. Born Robert Kraft, Raven, who is so-nicknamed for his black attire and long raven-hued locks, began his running streak January 1, 1975, when he resolved to run eight miles on the beach every single day for the entire year. It was an attempt to mend what he perceived as a defect of character. "I never stuck with anything," Raven said in a recent interview. "Jobs, relationships -- I was a quitter. I wanted to change that. The first year [of my running streak] I caught pneumonia, I stepped on nails. Food poisoning." But he kept going, no matter what.

Raven Hospital.jpg
Mary Beth Koeth
Raven had an angiogram last year after experiencing shortness of breath. He ran the halls of the hospital during wait times. No blockage was found and he completed his full eight miles as usual.
If you scratch below the surface, though, it's clear that the motivation behind Raven's commitment to running is more complex than merely a "stick to it" philosophy. His habit of running is tied as much to fear and an inability to let go of the past as it is to a deep sense of commitment. Raven says he can't imagine life without his daily run. His entire day is structured around it -- eating and taking painkillers on a strict schedule, stretching and trying to unfold his stiff skeleton in preparation for start time. He never strays far from the beach and dislikes leaving his apartment at all, not even to visit his girlfriend of 16 years.

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