MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – “It’s time for roll call!” yelled Robert “Raven” Kraft, a daily ritual just before the evening run, a run that has happened every day for the past 42 years.
Robert “Raven” Kraft is a living legend in South Florida’s running community and now he’s the center of a new book.
Raven, 66, has run eight miles a day, every day, for the past 42 years. He has not missed a single day, even through illnesses and hurricanes, since Jan. 1, 1975.
“In 1999, there was 86 mph winds. It was Irene. It wasn’t a big one but right during the run, I had 3 other people with me. I suffered the most because I was like, with no shirt on. They were covered up,” explained Raven to CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo.
It all began in 1975 when Raven, a songwriter, came to South Beach depressed after a Nashville songwriter stole his lyrics and recorded the song without Raven ever getting a penny.
“I came back here and heard a song on the radio with my lyrics and I didn’t know about copyright or anything,” he recalled. “I was heartbroken and I never got credit.”
He soon met two boxers at the gym and they invited him to run.
“I worked up to 8 miles and I said to one of them on January 1, 1975, ‘I’m going to run 8 miles a day for one year’, and now it been 8 miles a day for 42 years and five months,” he explained.
“Why do you do it?” Petrillo asked.
“In the beginning I was running for myself, selfishly and then as years went by it became unselfishly for others. So it’s helped me and now this whole thing over a song has helped thousands of other people.
Raven’s sunset runs begin with warm-up exercises on the beach. Then promptly at 5:30pm, the joggers head to the 5th Street lifeguard station to meet Raven.
“There’s no weather confirmation, no hotline to call, he will be here,” said author Laura Lee Huttenbach. “If he’s able to be here and if he’s alive, he’ll be at the 5th Street lifeguard station waiting for runners to show up.”
Six years ago, Huttenbach lived nearby and watched Raven run every day.
“So I’m a runner on the beach and would run in the evenings and I’d pass him and he wouldn’t be running alone. He’d be running with a diverse group of individuals and it was like a magnet. I had to talk to him and find out his story,” she explained.
Huttenbach became so fascinated with this man she decided to write a book titled Running with Raven: The Amazing Story of One Man’s Passion and the Community He Inspired.
He nicknamed her “White Lightening”. Everyone who completes the 8 mile run gets a nickname.
“He hasn’t run by himself in over a decade and ages from 6 to 80 have run with him from 85 different countries. I’m a traveler so to find out this guy hasn’t left Miami Beach in over 40 years, I’m thinking how do you have a world view? But somehow the world has come to him,” Huttenbach explained.
One young woman, who Raven nicknamed “Yellow Rose”, shot a documentary titled Unstoppable on Raven’s life.
Every day, with his very worn out shoes, Raven waits to see who will join him to jog 8 miles and talk about life.
Some are old faithfuls, like “Taxman.” He’s clocked 2,076 runs with Raven so far.
“He’s so mild mannered,” said Taxman. “He’ s such a wonderful person in addition to being an inspiration.”
A woman named Laura decided to join Raven for the first time while on her vacation. She says she knows the legend of Raven.
“I mean he runs 8 miles every day for 42 years! That’s so amazing and so inspirational,” she exclaimed.
Raven knows exactly how many people have made the run.
“2,685 people have done the 8 miles with me. Thousands of others have tried. We have a whole list,” Raven said. Then pointing at Laura, the first-timer, he said, “She could be 2,686.”
What about Lisa Petrillo? She set out for the 8 mile run but like others before her, did not complete it. But she had one more question.
“Do you ever see an end to this?”
“I’d like it to end like I never know. I’d like to keep on going and then just not wake up one day,” Raven replied.
“And then you would’ve run through life the way you wanted it?” Petrillo asked.
“Yes,” said Raven. “Yes, I hope.”
Running with Raven is available in bookstores now.