Off and Running – the Baker to Vegas Relay Race

Detective Fletcher of the Altadena Sheriff’s Station prepares for her leg of the Baker to Vegas relay race.
Photo courtesy of John GILBERT


The Baker to Vegas relay race was held on March 23 – March 24. It is a 120-mile race, all on pavement, that gathers over 100,000 runners, guests, family members and support staff.

Each runner takes on one of the 20 legs of the race that each range from a little over six miles to over 10 miles. Members of law enforcement agencies, both national and international, compete in a friendly contest that begins near Baker, California and travels through Death Valley with the finish line in Las Vegas.

The relay was started by Chuck Foote and Larry Moore as a way for officers to maintain physical fitness and build camaraderie with fellow officers. When it began about 30 years ago it included two agencies – Los Angeles Police Dept. and LA County Sheriff’s Dept. This year the relay saw 275 teams represented.

“This growth is what I thought would happen. Over the years it slowly grew [as the word spread] from one cop to another,” Foote said in an earlier interview with the CVW.

“It went pretty well,” said Sgt. John Gilbert, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. (LASD) – Crescenta Valley Station, of this year’s event.

Gilbert has run the race many times and has done so in all kinds of weather but this year he said it was pretty close to perfect conditions.

“This year the weather was on our side,” he said.

Last year the runners were a little slower in part due to the weather. The race started at 95 degrees Fahrenheit and then continued heating up during the day, with cold temperatures at night.

“Our team did better than projected this year,” he said. “We had originally set [a goal] of 19 hours 5 minutes to run the 120 miles. We completed it in 18 hours, 32 minutes … a lot of our CV Station runners were very strong.”

Members of the Crescenta Valley Station combined with the Altadena Station to form a team.

Glendale Police Dept. (GPD) continued its tradition of participating in the Baker to Vegas competition.

“We fell a little shorter this year,” said GPD Officer Vincent Jackson.

The runners were still impressive, putting in a time of 16:49 time overall, according to the Baker to Vegas official results.

But for a lot of teams, including GPD and LASD CV Station, the competition is only part of the reason Baker to Vegas is such a long tradition for many agencies.

“Every year, and this year again, I ran into an old friend from the academy and we are talking [about] 17 years ago [when] I was in the academy,” Jackson said.

Running into old friends is something Gilbert looks forward to as well. LASD has several stations throughout LA County and throughout deputies’ careers they will work at different stations. Gilbert added he likes seeing those he had served with at other stations who he hasn’t seen in years.

Baker to Vegas is an event where the runners also have a chance to meet with law enforcement agencies from other states and other countries, including Australia and Canada that participated this year.

“The running and camaraderie,” Jackson said were the things he liked most about the race.

He added that often officers only know each other in the workplace but this race allows them to be part of a different type of team.

Jackson ran Leg 14 of the relay, which started just before midnight. He too noticed the milder conditions although his leg of the race was during the night in the desert.

“Yeah it was pretty cold,” he said.

But overall the temperatures were mild and Jackson said he was grateful they didn’t see the winds that came in Sunday night into Monday.

“On the drive home, there was major wind,” he said. “Fortunately we did not have those crazy winds during the [race].”

Both Jackson and Gilbert plan to run the relay next year, as do members from the other teams.

“Our CV side [of the team] was happy with our time but we want to train earlier,” Gilbert said.

He added the hills and streets around the CV Station area are perfect training grounds because of their varied elevations.

Jackson said he is proud of his team and the runners are already talking about next year.

“Next year we will come on stronger,” he said. “We are excited for next year [though] it’s back to training and starting off again.”

In the final local overall results:

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Citywide won the top spot with a time of 12:51:06

LAPD Foothill Division 15:24:32

Burbank Police Dept. 17:02:48

Pasadena Police Dept. 17:51:18

Each team raised money to support their trip to the Baker to Vegas relay race. Just to enter the race is over $2,000. The Glendale Police Officers Association supports the GPD’s race. To donate to Glendale POA go to

Donations to help the CV Sheriff’s Station Baker to Vegas team can be made to the Crescenta Valley Station Support Group. Checks can be mailed to CV Sheriff’s Support Group, P.O. Box 12458, La Crescenta, CA 91214. If donations are made specifically for Baker to Vegas, notate that on the memo portion of the check. For more information, visit the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Support Group website at