Getting set for a bulldog of a race

On a hot August Saturday — the 25th, to be exact — Eugene Urcan's idea of a good time will be to run up and down mountain trails for eight hours.

The La Cañada Flintridge resident isn't running because he's a glutton for punishment, though. He's running to raise money to help teens.

Urcan will run the Bulldog 50K, a 31-mile ultramarathon that takes place in the Malibu hills. He will climb and descend more than 8,000 feet of elevation in a race that he hopes to finish in eight hours.

Urcan has raised more than $1,000 and is looking for additional sponsors. All the money will be donated to the LAPD Cadets program.

The idea grew out of Urcan's friendship with Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, whom he met in a graduate course at UCLA.

“About nine months or so ago I was asking [Beck] if there was any volunteer work or anything I could do, Urcan said. “I gave him the idea of what I was going to do, and he said here's a couple of options. I've always wanted to help kids.”

Urcan, a former collegiate volleyball player, said he's kept in shape since he last ran a marathon in 1994, but the Bulldog 50K presents a unique challenge.

“With marathons, although there are some hills, it's pretty flat, right?” Urcan said. “What makes this race hard is not only is it run on a trail with elevation, but it's also run in the dead of summer.”

Urcan said he relishes the challenge, because he wants to be sure his donors are getting their money's worth.

“I think people always enjoy other people in pain, and I'll definitely be feeling it,” he said.

Enrollees in the LAPD Cadet program range from 13 to 20 years old and spend eight hours each Saturday for 18 weeks at the LAPD's Ahmanson Recruit Training Center near LAX.

Natalie Torres, youth programs coordinator for the LAPD, said they learn what “teenagers need to survive in the world.”

“How to address bullying, how to avoid narcotics, how to stay away from gangs, defensive driving. We stress education. Increases in GPA are very important to us,” she said.

Uniforms, athletic and academic supplies for the program are funded by donations, Torres said.

The program receives the bulk of its funding from Ray Charles Foundation and Los Angeles Police Foundation grants. Torres said it's important for the program to find stable funding so it can stay free for the 500 to 600 youth who graduate each year.

Urcan will be stepping up, again and again, for the cause after weeks of training on La Cañada roads and trails.

“With a family and kids and work and everything else, it doesn't make running for three or four hours at a time very easy, but where there's a will there's a way,” he said. “I'm just trying to raise money for a good cause. Everyone has their way of volunteering and doing some good, and this is mine.”

For more information or to support Urcan's run, write to

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