"We salute our CSLEA members in the Department of Justice, Alcoholic Beverage Control, Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Insurance who are taking part in the largest law enforcement race of its kind in the world. We wish them great luck and great fun." - CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
Dozens of California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) members are pounding the pavement and taking to trails throughout the state as they train and took part in time trials for a spot on their department's team participating in the 30th annual Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay March 22-23, 2014.
"All of us our between the ages of 36 and 50-plus and I recently broke my foot," said Justin Bolden in describing the California Department of Justice (DOJ) team. Bolden is DOJ's team captain, a director on the Association of Special Agents-DOJ (ASA-DOJ) board and a member of CSLEA. "There are 20 teams in our division. We have 19-20 DOJ special agents and one guy from the IRS joining us. Each team has 20 runners and two alternates. DOJ has had a sworn team in this for more than 26 years. "
By comparison, the team for California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is fairly new. "This will be our seventh year. We learned a lot the first couple of years," said Ben Delarosa, ABC's team captain and member of CSLEA and the CSLEA-affiliate California Alcoholic Beverage Control Agents (CABCA). "We get everyone in the department involved, from the director on down. It takes a lot of runners and volunteers to do this. ABC is a close department, it is not unusual for us to do this."
Joining in at the starting line will also be a team of investigators from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). "This is my 13th year and the DMV's third," said Luis Hernandez, DMV's team captain and member of CLSEA and the CSLEA-affiliate Association of Motor Vehicle Investigators of California (AMVIC). "Last year we used one of our alternates because one of our runners suffered from heat stroke."
Also participating in the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay are CSLEA and California Association of Criminal Investigators (CACI) members on the Department of Insurance team.
The 120 mile challenge takes place on highways and roadways from Baker, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. There are 20 stages in the race, hence 20 team members. Some run four miles, some run 10 miles. Some run during the day, some run during the night. Some run uphill, some run downhill. The team captain picks the runner who is right for each leg of the race. The challenge is about pride, honor and camaraderie.
Getting 20 team members may be the easy part. Each team is involved in fundraising to pay the $2100 entry fee. Other costs include rental cars for someone to follow the runners in, cases of water and other supplies. There is also a support team and a team command post. Everything from gas, to reflective vests to hotel rooms costs money, much of it funded by those who participate.
"Each runner pitches in money. We have sold Dodgers tickets," said Hernandez. "We have raffled gift baskets and an iPad."
"Our team members are from all over the state," said Bolden. "So most of us train on our own." Bolden pointed out that a challenge such as Baker to Vegas can be useful in building morale in a department that is recovering from a lot of layoffs.
"We involve everyone in our department, sworn and non-sworn," said Delarosa. "Every runner pays $100 for the entry fee and we raise money for everything else. We sell shirts, we have rummage sales."
From CSLEA to all our members who are running or volunteering - good luck, stay healthy, stay safe and cheers to you when you cross that finish line!