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Forever young

Athletics keep Putnam former coach and teacher Ted Zetterberg youthful at heart
by: Jaime valdez Ted Zetterberg (184) holds his own with a runner while competing in a recent race-walk event at Clackamas Community College. The retired Rex Putnam High School teacher and coach has taken up competitive race-walking at 78.

MILWAUKIE - Retired Rex Putnam High School coach and educator Ted Zetterberg is 'forever young,' thanks to a daily regimen of training.

'His doctors say they can't believe he's going to be 79 in September,' said Zetterberg's wife, Marilyn.

Marilyn says that her husband keeps a strict training regimen, working out 'at least five days a week.'

Ted Zetterberg lifts weights twice a week and for more than a year he's been practicing race-walking three or four days a week.

'It's fun,' Zetterberg said. 'I do it pretty much rain or shine.'

Earlier this summer, Zetterberg took part in his first competitive race-walk, an Oregon Road Runners 5-kilometer race-walk and run at Clackamas Community College.

'I was second, I think, among race-walkers in my [ages 75-79] division,' Zetterberg said. 'It was kind of funny, because I beat a guy who was running. And I was walking, not running.'

Zetterberg completed the 5-kilometer Clackamas Community College course in just over 41 minutes.

Zetterberg says he is working towards building up to competing in 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race-walk events.

'I hope he doesn't go much further,' Marilyn Zetterberg said. 'I have trouble getting enough calories in him as it is.'

Fitness is nothing new for Ted Zetterberg. He's worked out on a regular basis since retiring from teaching English at Putnam in 1987.

He started teaching at the school in 1966 and coached cross country and track and field during the majority of his time at the school.

Zetterberg has received a number of honors for his coaching. He was a three-time nominee as national coach of the year, twice in track and once in cross country.

A graduate of Willamina High School and of Linfield College, Ted Zetterberg has always been athletic. He played both football and basketball at Linfield.

'I once punted [a football] 72 yards, and I could kick it 50 yards, no sweat,' Zetterberg said.

After retiring at Putnam, Zetterberg ran and worked out on a regular basis with fellow educators and coaches Randy Bethke, Jack McGoldrick and Don McCluskey, until they passed away.

'I miss them,' Zetterberg said. 'I used to run with them all the time. They all passed away within a two-year span. I'm the lucky one, I guess. But I sure do miss them.'

Zetterberg and his associates frequently ran road races together, and they once ran a half-marathon.

Asked why he has switched from running to the race-walk, Zetterberg said, 'Because I don't run very fast.' And, he says he's having a ball race-walking.

Zetterberg's connection to Rex Putnam High School did not end with his retirement. He's a regular fixture at Putnam home track and field and cross country meets, as well as at district meets, where he volunteers to help run the meets.

'He's done it nearly every year [since retiring],' Marilyn said.

'I like to stay active,' Ted Zetterberg said. 'And it's fun.'

'Ted has meant everything to Putnam athletics,' said Putnam cross country coach Brent Eggers. 'From the time he was coaching, to post-retirement, he stayed around, helping out where he could….

'He was a mentor to me. I used Ted as a sounding board, because he was a coaching genius.

'You don't find many guys like Ted Zetterberg. He's a great guy, and he never slows down.'