Training, teamwork bring members closer together
By Thy Vuong, OPEC, CDCR Staff Services Manager I
The Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) staff recently participated in the annual Challenge Cup/Baker-to-Vegas Relay, a 120-mile relay run also serving as the largest law enforcement foot-pursuit in the world.
The event is offered to law enforcement officers and promotes teamwork, camaraderie, physical fitness and competition. According to organizers, the relay motivates participants to maintain physical fitness so they can be effective in the performance of their job duties.
In its 20-year history, the event has grown from Los Angeles-area law enforcement officers to now include probation officers, District Attorneys, U.S. Attorneys, police personnel and State parole. The sense of interagency competition is taken very seriously but also leads to good-natured fun and friendship.
DAPO’s 34-person team was headed by Team Captain Tina Rivero, Parole Agent I, and Co-Captains Angela Wilson, Parole Agent III, and Mireya Audet, Parole Agent I. DAPO’s team finished the race in 18:09:11, placing 157 out of 262 teams.
Wilson and Rivero, already avid runners, hold themselves and their team to high standards. To prepare for this year’s event, they organized training events, provided training tips, and participated in various running events between 2014 and 2015 in preparation for the relay.
The team consists of staff from both parole regions, all sharing the same goal of competitively placing in the event. But even nine months of training under their belts did not prepare them for the realities of a grueling desert course.
The race begins in Baker, Calif., follows along Highway 160, and ends in Las Vegas, Nev. The relay is essentially a 24-hour race, and each team member takes turns running legs while being accompanied by a Follow Vehicle. The Follow Vehicle, consisting of volunteers from parole, carries water for the runner. Each leg includes an Alternate Runner who can jump in and substitute if necessary.
During the two-day event, desert temperatures reached as high as 92 degrees with wind speeds averaging 9-10 miles an hour.
“The race course is brutal,” said Wilson. “It gets windy, you’re at a higher elevation, and it’s hot on the black top. The temperatures and altitude there are higher than what any of us are used to.”
Still, Wilson was proud of the team.
“I have to give our team a lot of credit. We had some wobblers (and) a few got sick, but we persevered and pushed on,” she said. “There is always someone to jump in and take over in the event that someone could not go any further, yet each runner pushed on.”
She said the benefits to the members of the team are substantial.
“This kind of effort is so valuable. Like, for us, which included members of CPAT (California Parolee Apprehension Team), when we go to execute an arrest in the community, all of us need to know that we can count on each other and be working parts of the same machine to do our jobs safely,” Wilson said. “Training and competing in events like this together helps with the team-building, and it strengthens our rapport and relationships with each other.”
For the 2015 relay, the team received help from the Parole Agents Association of California to fund their registration fees, costs and supplies. Although the captains are veterans to this relay, this year’s team included both veterans and first time participants. With one relay event complete, the team captains are already making plans for next year’s run.
They are also considering forming a partnership with a local charity organization to help raise funds and bring awareness to worthy causes.
“We’re committed for 2016,” said Wilson. “For next year, we’re going to start earlier on our training and we are going to add to our training plan. We are the best at what we do, and this run is no different.”
Bobby Haase, Deputy Director of DAPO, is supportive of his staff’s competitive efforts in events such as this.
“Our Parole Agents are often placed in tough situations and have to work hand-in-hand with other law enforcement agencies in dangerous situations,” said Deputy Director Haase. “It’s great to have events like the Baker-to-Vegas relay where our agents can come together with our law enforcement allies for a friendly competition that brings out the best in all of us and, ultimately, helps us all become better partners, personally and professionally.”
Wilson says the DAPO team is ready to be an even more serious contender next year.
“The teams are extremely competitive in their mile times, with the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) and LASO (Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office) generally the favorites to win,” she said. “In the year to come, we plan to push our runners to the next level to place with the top teams and win our Challenge Cup for Team DAPO!”
Winners throughout the years
- 1985 LA Police Central Area (14:16:47)
- 1986 LA Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau (13:26:58)
- 1987 LA Police Training/Air Support (Halted Due To Snow)
- 1988 LA Police Hollenbeck Area (13:00:02)
- 1989 LA Police Parker Center (13:12:02)
- 1990 LA Sheriff’s Central Jail (13:03:31)
- 1991 FBI Los Angeles (12:57:41)
- 1992 LA Sheriff’s Central Jail (12:53:37)
- 1993 LA Sheriff’s Central Jail (12:42:17)
- 1994 LA Sheriff’s Central Jail (12:58:48)
- 1995 LA Sheriff’s Central Jail (12:56:37)
- 1996 LA Police Training/Air Support (12:41:29 –Record)
- 1997 LA Police Training/Air Support (13:12:37)
- 1998 LA Police Metro Division Red Team (13:40:23)
- 1999 LA Police Metro Division Red Team (13:10:39)
- 2000 California Highway Patrol (13:01:46)
- 2001 LA Police Metro Division Red Team (13:03:48)
- 2002 LA Police Metro Division Red Team (13:12:47)
- 2003 San Diego Police Department (13:24:06)
- 2004 San Diego Police Department (13:22:55)
- 2005 San Diego Police Department (13:18:01)
- 2006 CHP Sacramento (13:05:15)
- 2007 CHP Sacramento (13:03:40)
- 2008 Los Angeles Sheriff’s Central Jail (12:48:12)
- 2009 Los Angeles Sheriff’s Central Jail (12:48:46)
- 2010 Los Angeles Sheriff’s Central Jail (12:53:02)
- 2011 Los Angeles Sheriff’s Central Jail (12:53:37)
- 2012 Los Angeles Police Department Team (13:07:33)
- 2013 Los Angeles Police Department Team (13:02:32)
- 2014 Los Angeles Police Department Team (12:49:52)
(Editor’s note: Some websites may not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)
Information about the Baker-to-Vegas Relay Challenge can be found at https://bakervegas.net/.