Local icon Raven's running streak continues — for now
For nearly 50 years, Robert "Raven" Kraft has run through hurricanes, hospitalizations and the march of time.
- At 71, he's slower than he used to be. His daily 8-mile jog up and down Miami Beach — done at a fast-walking pace — takes him about three hours.
- He's also in more pain: Raven has chronic back pain, spinal stenosis and vertigo. His feet hurt so much — from bone spurs and calluses — that he runs with his New Balance sneakers untied.
Why it matters: Raven, a songwriter and retired security guard, has been a constant presence on Miami Beach for 47 years — running 8 miles a day, without fail, since Jan. 1, 1975.
- As he approaches his 72nd birthday Monday, he tells Axios he's increasingly confronted with mortality and, possibly, the end of his running streak.
What they're saying: "Once you get to this age, people [are] dying all around me," he says. "Friends, guys I went to school with can't walk, or they're in wheelchairs, or they're dead."
- "I just keep thinking, well, all that pain will be over," he says of death, that it would be something of a relief.
Driving the news: Raven says he's considering reducing his mileage to limit the stress on his body.
Yes, but: He doesn't want to stop altogether. Raven's obsession with the streak keeps him going, despite recent health scares and advice from doctors years ago to stop running.
- The only time he didn't physically run his 8 miles on the sand was during Hurricane Irma in 2017, when he ran 240 times around his apartment because the wind was so bad.
Flashback: Raven, whose second passion is making music, started running as a 1975 New Year's resolution after failing to make it as a songwriter in Nashville.
- He still dreams of writing a hit song. But his music — including the album "The Road is Long" — has made its mark among his friends and fans.
His routine: After more than 140,000 miles, Raven is a creature of habit.
- Dressed in all black except his bare chest, Raven starts from the Fifth Street lifeguard tower daily at 5:30pm (4:30pm during Daylight Saving Time).
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- He ties a black plastic bag on the tower to let people know he's out on his run, and he trots up and down the beach, usually with friends alongside him.
More than 3,500 runners have joined Raven over the years, and he gives each one a nickname once they complete their first 8 miles.
- Notable Raven Runners include State Rep. Michael Grieco ("Cleanup"), Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola ("Relay Ricky") and the late City Commissioner Mark Samuelian ("Chess Man").
On a recent outing, runner Susie Penders ("Moonchild") told Axios that Raven is a fighter but a realist. He was in so much pain one night that she asked him if he would prefer burial or cremation — just in case he died on a run. (He'd prefer burial, she said.)
- "His struggle is so inspirational to so many of us," said Penders, who runs despite two bad knees that have required surgery. "He listens to everybody's problems, too, and gives his humble advice, which is usually just, 'Keep running.'"
Go deeper: What it was like to run Raven
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