EDMONTON – Hard work pays off. More than fifty runners and volunteers from “K” Division attended the Baker to Vegas Law Enforcement Challenge Cup relay from March 22-23, 2014. Alberta’s provincial police force represented two of only three Canadian teams who traveled to the U.S. to participate in a 120-mile gruelling race through Death Valley from Baker, California to Las Vegas, Nevada.
The “K” Division open team placed 35th in their category, and 195th overall, improving their time by 50 minutes from 2013 and running two hours faster than in 2012. The women’s team placed ninth in their category, finishing in 19:52. They also showed significant improvement, shaving 88 minutes off their time since 2012.
The relay is the largest law enforcement event of its kind in the world, celebrating teamwork, camaraderie, physical fitness and competition. Though American law enforcement agencies comprise the bulk of the racers (257 teams from 145 different law enforcement agencies), teams come from all over the world to challenge each other.
Charity Benefits from Police Run
“The biggest highlight of participating has to be the ésprit de corps,” stated Cst. Heidi Ravenhill of the Historical Homicide Unit, who has participated in the race for six years. “This year we raised $2,500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society of Alberta in memory of Ret. Supt. Ed Spaans, who passed away in 2012.”
“The challenging physical conditions and complex logistical elements of the race bring out the very best in our members,” says Cpl. D’Arcy Swabey, captain of the open team. “Our American counterparts shake their heads when we tell them that three weeks prior to this event, most of our runners were training in -40 C temperatures in order to complete their hill programs.”
RCMP members and volunteers come from Edmonton, Strathcona County, Lloydminster, Wood Buffalo, Grande Prairie, Calgary, and Slave Lake.
Backgrounder – Baker to Vegas Law Enforcement Challenge Cup
“K” Division has participated in the Baker to Vegas Law Enforcement Challenge Cup for 16 years in the mixed category. In 2009, the women’s team was launched as well.
The Baker to Vegas Relay Challenge Cup began in 1985 as the brainchild of Chuck Foote and Larry Moore of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). It replaced the LAPD Metro Division’s “Death Valley Relay” which ended that same year.
The first Challenge Cup Relay start line was located on California Highway 127 in front of Baker High School, Baker, California and the finish line was on Nevada Highway 160 at the intersection of Blue Diamond, 119 miles away and just 13 miles short of Las Vegas. The first race had 19 teams, approximately 400 people.
In 2014, the relay involves 261 teams for an approximate total of 6,000 law enforcement officers. Each team consists of 20 runners with alternates and a full complement of support personnel and drivers. Volunteers are required to drive vehicles that follow the runners at all times, a second vehicle is required to shuttle runners back and for the to their specific race legs.
International teams in 2014 consisted of the women’s and open team from the RCMP, a Calgary City Police mixed team and a mixed team from Germany.
There are twenty stages in the race, varying in length and ranked in difficulty from one (most difficult) to 20 (least difficult).