Monday, June 23, 2008

The Final Stretch

Back in the spring of 2002, while on the beach, someone turned to me and pointed out a lone figure in the distance, running.

"See that guy? He runs every day, he never misses a day."

It turned out the "guy" was Robert Kraft, a "streak runner" and a Miami Beach legend, better known to everyone as "The Raven."

"The Raven," at that point was approaching a milestone, 10,000 days of running - 8 miles a day - without missing a day; his "streak." He started running on Jan. 1, 1975.

This puts him in a very exclusive club.

Thinking this might make a good story I told Jim Mullin, the then editor of Miami New Times about Kraft. He assigned a writer to the story. I shot the photos. Up till then, very few people knew about "The Raven."

The story ran on May 2, 2002, about two weeks before Kraft hit his 10,000th day.

Many days "The Raven" would run alone, but since the New Times story he's always had at least one person running with him.

["The Raven," now 57,] "has never had a driver's license, never flown in an airplane, and never held a full-time job. He rarely leaves Miami Beach, and when he does he can grow shaky with anxiety. He has not ventured further away from home than Fort Lauderdale for more than three decades."

I saw "The Raven" last week and he tells me that he's headed for the home stretch.

Sometime in the spring of 2009, perhaps April, he estimates that he will have racked up 100,000 miles.

"The Raven" likes nice round numbers and he's decided that might be a good time to hang up the running shoes.

If you want to run with "The Raven" before he quits - everyone's welcome - meet up with him any day at the lifeguard station at 5th Street and the Ocean at the new blue and yellow lifeguard stand; 5pm in the summer and 4pm in the winter. Tell him I sent you!

Learn more about "The Raven" here at his website.

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