Miami Beach

New book explores life of man who’s run 8 miles every day on South Beach for 42 years

Robert "Raven" Kraft celebrates 39 years of Running with Raven on Dec. 31, 2013 starting at the Fifth Street lifeguard stand.
Robert "Raven" Kraft celebrates 39 years of Running with Raven on Dec. 31, 2013 starting at the Fifth Street lifeguard stand. MIAMI HERALD FILE

Laura Lee Huttenbach noticed on her regular South Beach runs that she would always pass by an older man with long wavy hair, a salt-and-pepper beard, and jet black running shorts.

They’d cordially wave at each other on afternoon runs back then in 2011. A fresh arrival to Miami Beach, Huttenbach was looking for new reliable routines and new friends.

She hadn’t realized she’d run into what might be the most consistent, reliable person this busy, transient city has. He was Robert “Raven” Kraft, the legendary runner who has run eight miles on the Beach every single day, rain or shine, for 42 years.

Bare-chested and always clad in a black headband and a pair of New Balance sneakers, Raven is the subject of Huttenbach’s new book, “Running With Raven.” She explores Raven’s life as a songwriter, runner, storyteller and South Beach icon.

“The most alarming thing is he does what he says,” Huttenbach told the Miami Herald. “That’s getting rare.”

Indeed, Raven said he has run every day starting Jan. 1, 1975. He hasn’t missed a day since.

Huttenbach has spent the past few years interviewing Raven, running with him and meeting the cast of nicknamed pals who have become Raven’s loyal flock of runners. Raven bestows a new moniker on anyone who completes the eight-mile Raven run, and he bases the nickname on a sort of intro interview he conducts on the run.

She’s learned about his love of music — Raven is a songwriter who’s had some of his work recorded — and about the challenging moments he’s faced while keeping a 42-year streak alive.

Huttenbach said she was fascinated with Raven’s worldview, which is shaped by his appetite for the news and conversations with people who come from all over the world to run with him.

“For the last 42 years, he hasn’t left Miami,” she said. “The world has come to him.”

Books & Books stores in Miami Beach and Coral Gables are hosting two events this weekend to mark the launch of Huttenbach’s book. The Gables event is at 8 p.m. Saturday, 265 Aragon Ave. The Beach launch is 1 p.m. Sunday, 927 Lincoln Rd.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech