ESPD Officer Steve Paulsen, one of 24 officers nationwide selected to run the Boston Marathon on behalf of “Cops For Kids With Cancer.” Photo by Shannon Facca
by Shannon Facca
When most of the city’s residents are just beginning to stir each morning, El Segundo Police Officer Steve Paulsen has already been awake for hours, sweating, panting and pounding the pavement, one foot at a time. He runs with a specific goal in mind: participating in the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Paulsen first became an avid runner in 2004 after being severely injured in an accident while on duty for the LAPD. As he recuperated from severe damage to his shoulder, back and neck, he made a vow to himself.
“I decided I was going to come out of this better than before and I started to train for a marathon and I did two: Los Angeles and New York,” Paulsen said.
Mission completed, running was unintentionally pushed to the back burner as Paulsen started working on getting his master’s degree. Then he and his wife had their first child, and naturally work, school and family life consumed him.
Paulsen was launched back into the runner’s life in 2013 after a good friend and fellow officer, ESPD’s Rex Fowler, was involved in a motorcycle accident in which he was almost killed. Paulsen knew how he’d been helped in the long road to recovery by marathoning, and so he and Fowler set goals together.
“We didn’t know if he was going to walk again,” Paulsen recalled. “His leg was severely damaged, and we kind of made a deal that if he was going to do the Baker to Vegas [relay race], then I’ll get back into running again.”
Eager to reclaim the concrete, Paulsen came back with full vengeance, running in not just one, but two 26.2 mile marathons, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now, with four marathons under his belt, Paulsen is still looking to scratch an itch he has long had — to participate in the revered Boston Marathon.
On April 21, his dream will come to fruition. He is one of 24 policemen selected nationwide to run on behalf of the “Cops For Kids With Cancer” charity organization. Paulsen, who works with kids as a school resource officer for ESPD, found the charity online and was immediately drawn to it. But the screening process was rigorous, and he’d just about given up hope.
“I didn’t hear anything back, I kept calling and I finally got a hold of the guy who was in charge of the whole thing,” Paulsen said. “He informed me that this year there was a record high number of applicants…First I had a phone interview, then I had to send in a ‘runner’s resume’ and then an application, and then they picked me. It’s an amazing honor.”
To train, Paulsen has been running with the Los Angeles Road Runners. He has a team he runs in formation with, usually four days a week for up to three hours. Before arriving to Massachusetts, Paulsen has plans to run in the Los Angeles marathon on March 9 and the LAPD’s Baker to Vegas marathon on March 22-23, then off to the runner’s “Super Bowl,” the Boston Marathon, on April 21.
ESPD Chief Mitch Tavera said the entire department will be rooting for Paulsen, noting that the officer’s assignment as a school resource officer is one that requires high ethics and the ability to counsel young people. He commended Paulsen’s “command presence,” something he said is made stronger by his physical fitness.
“His participation in the famous Boston Marathon is a true sign of this attribute,” Tavera said. “Officer Paulsen is not only a mentor to our youth, but to the entire El Segundo Police Department….Run hard Steve!”