They Gladly Give Us the Runaround

Times Staff Writer

Ed and Dorothy Stotsenberg look around at their fat friends and wish they’d get off their duffs.

“The only thin ones are those who run,” said Ed, who began jogging when he was 61. “We try to get our friends to get down to what they weighed when they were 17.”

The Stotsenbergs, both 71, have been running hard recently, training for the World Assn. of Veteran Athletes international games, which begin Saturday in Rome. The games, expected to draw 4,000 contestants, continue through June 30.

Senior Competition


Ed Stotsenberg, who holds a gold and two silver medals from senior competition in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he competed in 1981, will probably compete in the 800-, 1,500- and 5,000-meter runs. Dorothy will run the 400 and 800.

The Stotsenbergs are booked into the 70-74 age group.

In preparation for the competition, Ed has been running six to 10 miles a day, several days a week. Two days a week he trains at the Santa Monica Track Club, where he begins by jogging two miles, then does a series of shorter distances at assorted speeds. “Then I warm down for another mile and then come home. I sleep like a log.”

On weekends he does 5K and 10K races or the couple participates in senior track meets that are held throughout Southern California.


Dorothy was 66 when she reluctantly took up running at her husband’s insistence. Now she does three miles a day, alternating with workouts twice weekly at Lucy Brown’s body dynamics and kinesiology classes in Malibu. Like her husband, Dorothy has competed at international meets in New Zealand, Puerto Rico and China.

Ed likes to talk about the effects of running on health. “Can you feel the pulse on your feet? I bet you can’t,” he said. “I can. I have a resting heartbeat of 54, because my arteries are completely open. Anybody over 60 cannot (usually) get his heart to beat over 160 beats a minute. I do 185, so it means I have a good working heart and open arteries, and in a minute, it’s back to 120, which is good, in five minutes back to 60. When sitting, I’m 54-55.” The Stotsenbergs take care of each other. When Ed runs back and forth on Mulholland Drive in Malibu, Dorothy comes down from the top of the hill and their copper-trimmed home to keep him company. “We don’t run together, because he runs so much faster than I do,” Dorothy explained. “But in a 5K, he will run me in--the last 100 yards--to pep me up so I don’t fall on my face, so I can make a decent entry at the end.”

The Stotsenbergs follow the Pritikin diet, they say, “which is low fat, no sugar and rough carbohydrates. We keep the protein down.” They also consume bushels of vegetables--broccoli, carrots, zucchini, beans, celery, green peppers, cabbages--and eat a lot of rice and oatmeal. Their diet includes some chicken, fish and beef, but almost no cheese and very little bread.

Dorothy Stotsenberg’s skin is like satin, with nary a line. “It’s the running,” she says.


It may, too, be their enjoyment of life. On the top of their hill they sometimes rise at 2:30 a.m. to look at galaxies and meteors. Other times they scout for the Rings of Saturn or the moons of Jupiter.

And, they adore music. While Dorothy practices at the Chickering grand piano, Ed works at the guitar. Then they indulge in a duet. Currently, they’re perfecting Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concerto de Aranjuez.” But, they never perform for friends. “I get the shakes when I perform in front of others. I used to be as calm as Paderewski,” he says.

And they read--volumes: “War and Peace” or Will and Ariel Durant’s “Story of Civilization.” They feed hundreds of hummingbirds three times a day, as well as quail and owls. And they listen to the yip-yipping of coyotes in the nearby hills or trim the grass of 14 acres with their tractor. She’s writing a history of Malibu. He goes to the office five to 10 hours a day and takes an avid interest in the disposition of more than $600,000 annually from the Mary Pickford Foundation. Stotsenberg served as Pickford’s accountant for years, advising the late actress on financial matters.

And they don’t drink. “I grew up in Prohibition. I got along without it. I saw a lot of heartbreak, and I never smoked,” he said.


She can’t stand alcohol and cigarettes. And he comments: “We remember our friends growing up, and we can’t think of a single person who smoked among our contemporaries, who is alive. You see someone smoking, and you practically beg them to stop.”

Enjoys Giving Money Away

They will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 1988. Dorothy graduated from the University of Washington, then met Ed, a shipping clerk. They married in Yakima, Wash., and Ed started college, became a CPA while still a junior and later attended Harvard Business School. He acquired Mary Pickford as a client in 1951 and has headed the foundation he helped her establish since 1979. Funds often go for scholarships, and Stotsenberg obviously enjoys giving the foundation money away: “I know how tough it was going through college with no support.”

One of the joys of running internationally, they say, has been the acquisition of new friends. They plan to see them again in Rome: Norma and Tony Castro of La Canada; Mary and Jim Vernon of West Covina; Marge and Bob Hunt of Anaheim. After the Rome competition the couples will visit Florence, Venice, then Athens and the Greek Isles.


The Stotsenbergs are philosophical about running times: Ed ran a quarter of a mile in 75 seconds two years ago. He can’t run that fast now. On the 800 meters, he runs about 2:40 now; in 1981, he ran 2:32. He does 1,500 meters now in about 5 minutes and 30 seconds; in 1981 he did it 5 minutes and 5 seconds.

Slowing Down a Step or Two

Do the slower times bother him? “Yes, I get slower. I’m training just as hard as I ever did, but I still get slower. I feel just as good, I just can’t run as fast. But I feel better than I did when I was 30, and I know I run faster than when I was 30, because I wasn’t training then.”

As for Dorothy’s running, he says: “She’s much healthier than she was, and she has reversed her osteoporosis. Her back is twice as strong. . . . I don’t say that running has extended my life, but it certainly has extended it as a full life. We are just as active as we ever were.”