No Back Up Needed

Sgt. Ray Harley hands the baton off to Mike Leum. Photo by Steve Goldsworthy

Sheriffs and GPD defeat Death Valley without injury in annual Baker to Vegas Relay.

By Brandon HENSLEY

Those 120 miles can wear men down like no other. If the runners don’t go down due to heat stroke, then surely the winds will get them, or the rain, or the snow. Some of the runners train year-round, only to eventually succumb to the elements and be airlifted by helicopter out of the desert.

Another one bites the dust indeed.

But this year, two local law enforcement agencies took part in that race last weekend, the annual Baker to Vegas run, with surprising results in regard to standing and health.

Personnel from the Glendale Police Department and the CV Altadena Sheriff’s stations ran the springtime race from Saturday evening to Sunday morning, and held up pretty well. The race, which started 27 years ago as a competition between the LAPD and L.A. Sheriff’s Department, has expanded worldwide, and that includes law enforcement of the foothills getting in on the arduous, grueling fun.

It starts from the California town of Baker and ends in Las Vegas. Each leg of the relay race consists of about six miles. This year the Glendale team finished third in their division and 25th overall out of 265 teams that entered.

“I was very proud of our team to come in 25th out of that many teams,” said Sgt. Tim Feely, team captain for Glendale.

Glendale, which has 150 officers, was in a division comprised of units with less than 200 officers. There are some divisions with departments of around a thousand officers.

Feely said this year the main hurdle was heat exhaustion. Runners ran in excess of over 95-degree heat.

“Sometimes there’s wind and we’ve had rain and snow and all that stuff; this year the only thing was the heat during the early stages and then at the end of the race,” he said. “We didn’t need to use any of our alternates. All the runners were able to do a fantastic job this year.”

Each team uses 20 runners and six alternates, and like Glendale, the CV-Altadena team didn’t have to use its alternates either.

“[We] came close a couple of times,” said David Gaisford, a detective for Altadena and who ran in the race.

CV-Altadena had to pair up because if both department’s small size. The team finished 141st overall.

“Some of your other stations – they have hundreds of deputies to choose from. For us, Crescenta Valley and Altadena, we’re so small, we have to have a joint team,” Gaisford said.

Gaisford’s team started training around last October, and mainly ran around the Rose Bowl.

But funding was another issue. The entry fee alone is $1,900. Then consider the extra trucks used to carry equipment and alternate runners, radios and other communication devices, water and fuel, and it is easy to see why officers have to do fundraising for the competition.

Communication equipment alone costs $600. Plus, there are helpers who make sure each runner is OK.

“We to have somebody there to catch them, make sure they’re all right and everything, give them water and all that good stuff,” Gaisford said.

The competition has expanded. Departments from Australia, Canada. Germany and England now take part in it. Feely can see how the towns they run through have changed over time as well.

“You can see how the towns have grown … there used to be nothing out [there], and now the towns have expanded,” he said.

Though the race takes a toll on a runner’s body, the annual race always has officers coming out of it feeling prideful and closer to one another.

“It’s an awesome time to get together and show a lot of camaraderie and teamwork to achieve this goal,” said Feely.

“It’s a big deal for them,” said Gaisford of his teammates. “They like the competition; they like to stay in shape. It’s pretty big event for them.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.