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Your newest neighbor is a veritable Forrest Gump

Peterson likes to run far, but he’s stopping in Blue Earth for a time

By Fiona Edberg - Staff Writer | Aug 1, 2021

You may have already seen this new neighbor dash down your street. We can confirm he also likes to stop and chat over a cup of coffee once in a while.

What is your name?  

“Ryan Peterson.”

Where are you from?

Ryan is from Northfield, Minnesota. “Born and raised,” he says.

However, Northfield is just the start of Ryan’s journey to Blue Earth.

He has spent time in Germany, China, Morocco, Egypt, Spain, and France, as well as a year backpacking through Sweden.

He completed most of his studies in the United States, however, at Iowa State University.

“I got my master’s in political theory at Iowa State,” Ryan says. “I went to law school at the University of Oregon.” He is currently working on his PhD at Washington University.

“I moved to Canada for a while,” he adds.

So where is Ryan from? ’Many places’ might be the best answer.

How would you describe your hometown in three words?

“Cows, colleges, and contentment.”

Why did you leave your hometown? 

“I like to think of myself as adventurous.”

How did you find Blue Earth? 

Ryan needed to find a new place to stay, and connections led him to Blue Earth.

“My friend’s girlfriend was moving in with her friend and was looking for a sublet,” says Ryan. After a year, his sublet in Blue Earth has become a permanent lease. He is enjoying the community so far.

“We love our neighbors,” Ryan says. “They’re fantastic.”

Who did you bring with you?

“My significant other, Esther Sherman, her daughter Leah, and two cats, Marshall and Frankie.”

How would you describe Blue Earth in three words?

“Quaint, comfortable, and content.”

What do you like to do in Blue Earth? 

“We hang out with our neighbors two to three times a week,” says Ryan. “We have coffee in the morning or cocktails after work.”

What do you like to do no matter where you are?

“A lot of running,” Ryan answers immediately. “I read a lot too.”

What are you reading? 

“Most of what I’m reading is for school,” says Ryan. He is currently working on a dissertation about administrative law, which he says is his passion.

He has one book with him; Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond. As the title suggests, the book examines the relationship between poverty and access to affordable housing.

“I would probably read it for fun, too,” admits Ryan.

I’ve heard you ran a 200-mile race. Is that true?

As we circle back to running, Ryan not only confirms this rumor, but tops it.

“It was 332 miles,” Ryan clarifies.

He explains the race is called Heart of the South. He began its latest annual event on June 17 this year.

“It started in Gaffney, South Carolina,” he shares. The race continued through four other states: North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.

The five-state journey took Ryan a total of 172 hours, 23 minutes, and 18 seconds, all on foot.

“About 100 people started,” says Ryan. “46 people finished.”

The race demands some grit from participants.

“We were homeless,” Ryan says, matter-of-factly. “We slept on the side of the highway, by an orchard.”

He admits the worst night was spent camped out behind a Dollar General.

“The store was burglarized. Law enforcement thought we were responsible.”

Despite an accidental run-in with the law, Ryan finished the race in 11th place.

How do you approach a race like that? 

Ryan says there are different strategies for tackling races like Heart of the South.

“I’m sponsored, I’ve got a team,” he explains. “We ran a lot during the day, and then slept 10 hours at night.”

Ryan and his team liked having the longer rest. “It gives you lots of time to rest your feet and take care of your body,” he says.

However, he met a medical doctor who had a completely different strategy.

“He walked the whole way, but only slept for 90 minutes a night,” says Ryan.

What advice do you have for amateur runners? 

“I’m not an advocate that everybody goes and runs 100 miles,” says Ryan. “My biggest advice is, slow down.”

What is something about you that would surprise people? 

“I don’t know. I don’t know what people would expect, or what would surprise people.”

How do you hope to surprise yourself in the future?

“I hope I can publish my dissertation in a book. I hope people will read it and it will have an impact.”

Ryan adds, “It goes hand-in-hand with running. It’s all about personal exploration. Running longer, faster, seeing what I can do.”

He says he will continue pursuing his goals as long as they bring him new perspective.

“The day I don’t learn something about myself, I’ll stop,” he explains.

Do you see a future for yourself in Blue Earth?

“Possibly. My conception of the future is, I don’t think of it as measured by career prospects, or by income, but by projects.”

Ryan wants to see where new projects lead him in the future. He hopes his next one will involve interviewing sovereign citizens; members of a sect of people who see themselves as not being subject to the law.

“I see them in courts all the time,” says Ryan. “I’m fascinated by how they think.”

Are you more of a Jolly Green Giant or a Sprout?

“A Sprout,” says Ryan. “It’s okay to be ordinary.”

What is your favorite green vegetable? 


What is your favorite thing to eat that isn’t a vegetable?

“I love an ice cream sandwich.”

Finally, what are you drinking today? 

“Medium-roast black coffee.”