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Barstow Police team set to run in Baker-to-Vegas race
BARSTOW • Officers and support staff from the Barstow Police Department will be lacing up their running shoes Friday for the 26th annual Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup relay race.
Two hundred and sixty-two teams from across the country and two teams from Europe will trek 120 miles across the desert in teams of 20 for the annual event.
This will be the first year that a team comprised solely of Barstow Police Department officers and staff will participate in the race.
“We ran last year, but in the past we always had to partner with another agency, like the Fort Irwin Police Department,” said Sergeant Andy Espinoza Jr., captain of this year’s team.
Espinoza said that this year the department had enough officers and staff who wanted to participate to fill out a team of their own. In the past, Barstow Police Officers ran in teams that were in a category of the race that was only for sworn officers and this year the team will run in a combined officers-and-staff division.
The race is split up into different legs that vary in length, each of which is also rated on a scale of one to 20 on difficulty. The desert climate and change in elevation throughout the route makes for a challenging course.
Espinoza said that officers and other members of the department who try out for the team are assigned legs of the race appropriate to their skill level.
“They’re not all regular runners,” said Espinoza. “A lot of our officers and dispatchers are decent runners. Some train every year just for the Baker to Vegas relay.”
Teams start in Baker on Friday morning and run through the night and the next day for an expected finish Sunday morning sometime after 3 a.m.
“It’s especially difficult in the dark out there in the middle of the desert,” said Espinoza. “There aren’t any lights, all you’ve got is the headlights on your (support) car, it’s intense.”
Each team’s runner is followed by a team car to ensure the runner’s safety. Coordinating the drop-off and picking up of runners along the route is a massive effort. Espinoza, running in the race himself for the first time since 2000, said that he has high hopes for the team.
“I’m excited for the whole team,” said Espinoza. “I really think we have a good chance at taking a cup.”
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