Law enforcement agencies from all around the world gathered in the California desert last weekend for the 2016 Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay.

I never got the opportunity to run Baker to Vegas.  That always crushed me.  It was no one’s fault really.  The departments I worked at just registered teams in race categories to which I simply did not qualify, either due to the classification of my position or age.  Sad.  As a former competitive long-distance runner of 13 years on California state and national championship contending teams in high school and college, I would like to think I would have had something special to contribute.  In addition, it always seemed like some people had to be forcefully coerced to participate on the B2V team while I was dying to get invited.  That always made my blood boil.  Thus, every year I bid farewell to my department’s team(s).

I never got the opportunity to run Baker to Vegas, but here is how I envision it would go in my mind…

It’s the middle of the night and I’m running an X-mile leg somewhere in the western Nevada desert between Pahrump and Mountain Springs.  I don’t know what time it is, either really late or really early depending on your perspective.  Time stands still out here.  The silence is deafening in the desert.  And the only thing piercing the darkness is the trail of lights on the highway.  Runners and support vehicles lined for miles ahead.  How many of them can I catch and pass?  Faster.  Faster.  One foot in front of the other, one step at a time.  The pain shooting down my calf to my Achilles tendon is irritating and getting worse.  My mind wanders, making it hard to focus as I start to push my body to its physical limits.  I think about people I’ve talked to… 911 calls I’ve answered from hysterical, hurt, angry, desperate people pleading for me to dispatch help… all the people who were victims of unspeakable tragedies and suffered great loss… all the people I could not help.  Inexplicably, that’s when the magic would happen.  Somehow, someway, with every step, the exhaustion I’d feel lets me relate to the pain of all the callers I once spoke with on 911, as if now we share in a suffering together.   The rhythm of my heart and breathing become almost mechanical.  “Runner’s High” is in full effect.  I become an unstoppable force of nature.  As I pass the baton to my teammate and I’m met by supporting members from my department, I find a new encouragement to carry on my work back at my department.

And isn’t that the purpose of the Baker to Vegas?  It’s about pushing ourselves to limits we thought weren’t possible; it’s about camaraderie.  Sure, we want to be competitive, but not at the expense of strengthening the brother/sisterhood that forms the Thin Blue Line.

Congratulations to all those who trained for weeks to compete on their department’s B2V running team.  You can find results from this year’s race by visiting the Baker to Vegas Website.