Jacob Zeiger returned home from Seattle for this Fourth of July weekend and raced in the Hannibal Cannibal for the first time since he was a teenager.
Jacob Zeiger was barely a teenager when he ran in the first annual Hannibal Cannibal race in 1995.
The Hannibal native admits he wasn't much of a runner, but that didn't stop him from posting a respectable 10K time of just over an hour on his first attempt.
“I never really ran before I entered the 10K,” he recalled. “I had no idea about distances or anything like that. I just got to the start line and started running.”
On Saturday, Zeiger picked up right where he left off at the 22nd edition of the popular annual tradition. After participating the first three years the Cannibal existed, he completed the course with his best time to date following a gap of 19 years.
Zeiger, who now resides in Seattle, returned to his roots this Fourth of July weekend to visit close ones who remain in the area. Joining him on the trip and in the race is his friend and co-worker, Sarah Harden, originally of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Zeiger, 34, graduated from Hannibal High School in 2000 before moving on to Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, where he finished in 2006. Eleven years ago, he accepted a job with Boeing that transplanted him to Seattle.
Cannibal organizers say Zeiger and Harden are in small company when it comes to distance traveled to participate in this year's event.
“That is pretty cool, even though it's just coming home for me,” Zeiger said.
In the days leading up to the race, Zeiger and Harden surveyed the path of the race, which started on North Main Street and continued on a route along Highway 79 capped by a trek up and down the infamous Lover's Leap.
“I remember Lover's Leap more than anything,” Zeiger recalled. “That's what everybody remembers about it. That is quite the hill.”
Harden mentioned she was first intrigued by the idea of coming to Hannibal when she saw the town listed in the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.”
“Go to Hannibal for all the July 4th and Mark Twain things,” she paraphrased of what she recalled reading. “I've got to cross this off, because I know a guy. We're here. We've got to experience the whole town.”
In addition to participating in the Cannibal, the pair is keeping busy during their vacation. They have already taken a tour at Mark Twain Cave and went on a riverboat cruise. A day trip to St. Louis for a Cardinals game was also in their plans.