At age 82, Roy Stevens calls himself “the running man.” He may live in Chicago, but he is recognized by people in Hannibal as the running man who returns each year for the Hannibal Cannibal race.

At age 82, Roy Stevens calls himself “the running man.” He may live in Chicago, but he is recognized by people in Hannibal as the running man who returns each year for the Hannibal Cannibal race.

This year he did not know the Hannibal Cannibal was on July 1 and arrived too late for the race, but he enjoyed his stay, going on the Mark Twain Riverboat - where someone remembered his name – and walking the streets of downtown Hannibal.

Before leaving on Friday, July 7, to return to Chicago on Amtrak, Stevens said he is eager to return for Hannibal's Autumn Historic Folklife Festival on Oct. 21 and 22.

“One reason I'm coming during the fall festival is I stopped in at the train shop, and they have full scale model trains for sale,” he said. “I had one as a child and never replaced it . … I want to replace that train.”

Explaining said he always stays at the Garden House Bed and Breakfast at 301 N. Fifth St. with owner Chris Bobek, a Chicago native, Stevens said he has been coming to Hannibal for about 18 years. He first heard about the Hannibal Cannibal at the arts and crafts show in Central Park, and later read an article about the race in “Runner's World” magazine.

Adding to his reasons for visiting Hannibal, Stevens said, “Tom and Huck have been my friends since I was 9 years old.”

He enjoys exploring Hannibal, explaining, “I love Java Jive and I spent a lot of time there. There's so many other things to do around here. It's such a beautiful town. The architecture is fantastic.

“I got to the top of Cardiff Hill and walked down to the end of Cardiff Drive, and it's a beautiful area. I was amazed at the number of fine-looking homes there. … This time I counted the steps (to the lighthouse from North Main Street), all 217 of them.

“I have written a song called 'Hannibal, Mo.' I have the lyrics and the melody but have not put them together.”

Stevens has been running for 38 years, beginning at age 44, when he soon “became addicted to it. My objective was to eliminate a pot belly.”

He has run races in several places, including the Honolulu Marathon and one in Fargo, N.D., where he was born.

Stevens still runs a lot in Chicago, where, “in addition to the Chicago Marathon, there are a lot of local races, half marathons and shorter races. My favorite place to run is on the Lake Michigan shoreline.”

He advises anyone considering running to, “Get a medical examination first, because some people might have a serious health problem, which would make running unadvisable. ...I didn't do it myself, but fortunately I was in pretty good shape.”

Reach reporter Bev Darr at bev.darr@courierpost.com.