Iconic Miami Runner Raven to Run His 110,000th Mile Despite Increasing Health Problems
|"Clairvoyant," Raven, "Poutine," who holds the records for the longest consecutive streaks of running with Raven, "Hollywood Flasher" Front: "Cheesy," and "Freshman"|
The running has earned him a bit of fame -- he's been featured on ESPN, had countless articles written on him (including a New Times "Best Local Cult Icon" title in 2001), and was asked to throw out the first pitch at a Marlins game a few months ago, which he did, despite its unsettling disruption to his schedule. (He had to run a few hours earlier than his usual 5:30 start time.) He's also got one of the longest daily running streaks in the country, and has certainly racked up the most mileage of any other streakers. But all those years and miles trail behind him like heavy chains around his knotted ankles; he's built way too much tradition to stop now -- or ever.
"Hopefully, I just won't wake up," he said about the day when he finally can't run anymore.
Even some runners who have skated across the sand with Raven hundreds of times have perceived only the heroism of Raven's story, and not the darkness. A few months ago, I ran the Raven Run alongside a woman the Raven has nicknamed Sparrow. (Raven gives all his running companions nicknames.) As we rolled along, she told me about the more than 300 runs she had made with Kraft, and how he always remembered exactly how many miles she'd covered with him, and how he remembered everyone's birthday, even if they only showed up to run once. She smiled as she described these idiosyncrasies.
When I pointed out that Raven also shows signs of compulsive behavior, her face fell into confusion. "No, really?" she said. "Huh, well I guess he does have a bit of a hoarding problem," she said slowly, as though suddenly seeing the Raven from a new angle.
Raven admits to his hoarding issues, too. He bought his South Beach apartment a few decades ago and has trouble letting go of what he perceives as memorabilia. "I have a sunglass collection, just for fun, of sunglasses I found on the beach," he says. "I dread thinking about inspectors coming around. But I'm making progress. I just threw out three years of newspapers. I found some deflated volleyballs I found on the beach 20 years ago and I threw those out," he said.
|Mary Beth Koeth|
|Robert "Raven" Kraft|
As the Raven shuffles to the 5th street lifeguard stand this August 23, set to run his 110,000th mile, pain and all, that'll be the question in the back of the minds of the people who care about him, even as they cheer him on: How -- and when -- can he quit?
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