Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Raven Runs a Milestone

I call Robert "Raven" Kraft the folk hero of South Beach because the streak runner, OUR streak runner, has the kind of stuff of legends.

Today marked a momentous occasion for Raven the marathon runner- his 100,000th mile of consecutive running for 34 years! Yes, that is 34 years as in 411 months as in 12,507 days,and the TV reporters, and newsmen, and politicians and the hordes of men and women who run with him were there at the 5th Street lifeguard stand, where it all starts every afternoon,to help clock it in.

We all need heroes and Raven is the best kind because he's no one-time shot. Come rain or shine or hurricane winds or hailstorm or blistering summer heat, or arthritis or injury or sickness, he's out there in his black shorts, black headband and black glove every day, inviting you and me and everyone else to join his inspirational run, and oh, he's got followers! For what started out as a lonely personal quest back in January of 1975 soon developed into an almost cult-like following and Raven at this point has probably had more than 800 runners, of all ages, from so many countries run alongside him. The deal is that if you make the 8 miles, you make Raven's chart, his record of names of those who achieved the goal. Only, if you study the chart, you won't see a first and last name. Instead, you get a nickname like Gringo or Taxman or Rev and that name sticks with you forever.

To me, what makes Raven the hero, is not so much the perseverance,or the commitment to reach a goal like 100,000 miles. It is the humanity of a man who brings others together, the rich and poor, the elderly and the very young to bond together and to feel the sense of community and caring for eachother. Raven may have started out lonely and with few friends but he created a world, call it Raven's world, that few men can match. For that we celebrate his achievements and we celebrate life.

Photos, from top to bottom:
Raven, surrounded by news camera crews.
Back of runner's t shirt tells the story of today's milestone run.
Runner shows "the Balancer" brand new paperback featuring Raven on it's cover.
Bette and Miami Beach Commissioner extraordinaire Jonah Wolfson.
Raven, with girlfriend "Miracle" at his side, poses with his runners.
Milestone run takes off!