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When planting's done, he'll lace 'em up

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Reggie Oeltjen, 65, is a farmer and business owner from Stewartville, and he's about to set out on a border-to-border run across southern Minnesota. Last week he took a break from his training and farming to discuss his plans with the Post Bulletin.

So, why are you running across the state?

OELTJEN:That's a good question, isn't it? Well, I figured I would never be fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, so I started thinking about what else I could do that would be a little bit different. Not many people run at age 65, so to show people that you can still do it, I decided to run across the state.

You're not running for some big cause? You're not asking for people to donate money?

OELTJEN:No fundraiser. No one needs to donate any money. I'm just doing it.

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So you're running alone across the state, with no support team?

OELTJEN:Not exactly. My daughter Natalie informed me that she's going with me. She's training for a triathlon, so some days she'll run, some days she'll bike.

What's your route?

OELTJEN:We'll start where Highway 14 crosses into Minnesota near Brookings, and then kind of parallel 14 most of the way. I'm scheduled for 15 miles a day. From the border to Mankato I have farmers lined up every 15 miles who will let me park my mobile home in their yards, and after Mankato there are campgrounds and a church parking lot where we'll spend the nights. We'll end up in Winona.

How long will this take?

OELTJEN: The plan is to run 20 consecutive days, rain or shine. We'll start on May 13, with the idea that this will get me to Byron on the day of the Med City Marathon. But if the rains keep me from getting the planting done before May 13, then we'll probably have to push the whole thing back.

Fifteen miles for 20 consecutive days — have you ever kept up a running schedule like that before?

OELTJEN:Nope, so you might not want to publish anything about this until I'm finished.

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How long have you been a runner?

OELTJEN:I started running at 50. My daughter was going to graduate school at Purdue, and she said 'Dad, how would you like to run a half-marathon in Indianapolis? Part of the race is around the Indy 500 track.' I said sure, even though I hadn't run since high school. It got to be a year before she was going to graduate, and she asked me if I'd started training yet. I said, 'Do you have to train?' Anyway, due to injuries and her having kids, we didn't get that race run until three years ago, but we finally did do it. I've now done 14 marathons.

What's the biggest race you've done?

OELTJEN: Oh, I've done the Twin Cities a couple times, done Grandma's a couple times. I've done Anchorage — that was an interesting route. There were some city streets, some trails through the woods. You see moose along the way. The year I was there, a moose took out one of the water stops, ran right through it and disrupted everything.

So, you're not running for any big cause ... you just feel like running. Does that mean you're a fan of the movie 'Forrest Gump'?

OELTJEN:Oh, it was a fine movie, but it didn't enter into my decision to do this. But if you look on my blog at b2bat65.blogspot.com, it does say, 'Join us for a mile or a morning.' If people want to come out and run a little bit or a lot with us, they can do that.

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