By Mary O’KEEFE
After running 120 miles through the desert, law enforcement members that participated in this year’s Baker to Vegas relay race are recovering from the run and the heat, and deciding on whether to run next year’s race.
“This was my 14th or 15th year,” said Glendale Police Chief Robert Castro.
This was the first year Castro ran for the GPD team, prior to that he had ran with other agencies including while he was chief with Glendora police.
Over the years there have been changes in the race including dates and course changes. The weather has been a varying factor through the years.
Castro remembered one year when it was 103 degrees Fahrenheit. It was so hot runners shoes would melt into the asphalt.
This year he ran the 20th leg that led into Las Vegas. The teams are extremely competitive.
“This team is much faster,” he said, compared to other teams he has run with.
So fast in fact that GPD crossed the finish line winning second in their division with a time of 15:54.
The run was not easy and it is not uncommon for runners collapsing at the end of their leg. Castro said the relay is organized with a lot of support for runners.
“Very often there are runners that need help,” he said.
For him the key to survive and to thrive in the race is the proper mix of carbs and water.
“This year I didn’t take any fluids while I ran,” he said “I was running into the sun.”
But he had hydrated prior to the race and found this worked for him. Each runner has found what works for him or her.
“I didn’t want to stop…. you are constantly hearing footsteps running [behind or alongside] you,” he said.
Castro who has been with the GPD now for about a year and a half was happy to run for his department.
In an earlier interview team captain Lt. Tim Feeley said having the Chief be part of the team was a morale booster.
“I [like] to set an example,” Castro said.
He added it is as important for him to stay in shape as much as it is for his officers.
Los Angeles County Sheriffs from the Crescenta Valley and Altadena Stations were also part of Baker to Vegas. They placed 41 in their division, which was a good show as they are starting with new team members.
“We were faster than last year,” said Richard Engersbach, law enforcement technician at the CV Station. “The team worked well together.”
He added the weather was very hot.
“Our first seven runners had to deal with extreme heat,” Engersbach said. “None of our runners passed out but I personally saw three people that couldn’t finish their leg because they had passed out.”
Engersbach said he was happy with the team’s results and they are already planning for next year.