He’s run eight miles every day since January 1st, 1975, starting at the Fifth Street lifeguard stand on South Beach.
He’s never owned a passport. He’s never had a driver’s license. He’s never even been on an airplane.
Does he have any regrets? No way.
His name is Robert “Raven” Kraft, and he’s a living legend within South Florida’s running community. Despite suffering from food poisoning, fever, and even getting pelted with hail during Hurricane Wilma, Raven has never missed a run on South Beach in over four decades.
Since 1975, over 2,600 people have run beside him in a local movement that became known as the The Raven Run. Everyone who completes the eight miles gets a nickname and is added to The Raven List, including author Laura Lee “White Lightning” Huttenbach.
In her new book, Running With Raven, Laura Lee tells the story of the Miami Beach legend, from the unique perspective of both a Raven runner and a friend. The biography on the life and legacy of the legendary runner goes in-depth to tell the story of Raven and his impact on the community. According to Huttenbach, the community he has formed over the last few decades had never been written about. “Raven has been covered widely, but I just felt like the community he has cultivated hasn’t been covered,” she explained.
Laura Lee was only 29 years old and new to Miami Beach when she met Raven on South Beach a couple of years ago. “He told me, ‘I’ve probably been running since before you born. When’s your birthday?’ and I said, ‘August 1st, 1982,’ and he goes, ‘Oh, that was a Sunday.’ I was like, ‘It was—what?’”
His memory is exceptional. Although he’s met over 2,600 runners, he’s kept a list of every single one of them. “They’ll show up at the Fifth Street lifeguard stand [years later] and he’ll be like, ‘Oh, it looks like you’ve lost weight!’”
Since the day they met, she has run over 1,000 miles alongside Raven. During those runs, she heard stories from people of all ages and from all different walks of life. She quickly realized it was the only place where she could meet such a diverse group of people who all shared a common interest – their runs with Raven.
“Miami Beach is full of a lot of worlds, but there’s not one place where everyone congregates,” she explained. “And the Fifth Street lifeguard stand was that place.”
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This very realization may be the reason why he has never felt the need to leave Miami Beach. “The world has come to him,” she explained. “Miami Beach is a city [where] you can experience so many different nations in even one neighborhood. The run is such a good way to meet people, too, because when you’re on a run the first question you can ask is, ‘How did you get your nickname?’
And that nickname has followed her ever since, even all the way up to her new residence in New York.
“I live in New York now, and Raven’s preferred means of communication is by the post office,” she said. “So, he writes me letters and he addresses them to ‘White Lightning’ and I’m like positive—and I live in Harlem—and I’m like sure that the postman thinks that I’m a drug dealer. I get mailed as the White Lightning.”
Running With Raven Book Launch
8 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at Books & Books Coral Gables, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; and 1 p.m. Sunday, April 30, at Books & Books Miami Beach, 927 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Admission is free. Visit booksandbooks.com or ravenrun.net.