Law enforcement from all over the world gathered for the annual Baker to Vegas race on March 23 and 24.
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station competed in the station race, finishing 13th out of 21 teams. The SCV team of 20 racers treaded 120 miles of desert and finished in 17 hours and 34.40 minutes, shaving an hour off the station’s time from 2022.
The relay race course is broken into 20 legs, where racers pass the baton onto the next runner for their near 6-mile run. Participating law enforcement can run anywhere between Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon. Deputy Natalie Arriaga, the station’s spokeswoman, started her half-incline leg of the race at 3 a.m.
Arriaga has no experience in competitive running and never pictured herself doing so. The adrenaline of the race has led to hundreds of deputies achieving the difficult feat.
“It’s definitely a relief to finish,” Arriaga said in a phone interview. “You’re spending the first 24 hours prior to the run anxious and nervous. So, I was relieved when I was done but proud I accomplished it. I never pictured myself a runner so I was amazed by myself that I was able to pull this off.”
Arriaga competed for the second straight year alongside team co-captain Ken Pickard. The fellow deputy ran a 4.2-mile leg of straight incline. Pickard jokes he always regrets running the race right after finishing, but noted the camaraderie among law enforcement is what makes it all worth it.
“It’s nice because there’s a lot of inter-agency fun,” Pickard said in a phone interview. “Everything from fire, FBI, everyone with the goal of running a leg, everyone’s watching out for one another. Everyone just wants to run the 120. Camaraderie was definitely one thing above all.”
Arriaga also felt the encouragement from her competition, displaying the togetherness of the law enforcement community.
“Another team’s runner passed me but said, ‘Good job, keep going,’” Arriaga said. “I’ve never met this person but they support you no matter what, they’re running past you but encouraging you.”
The two played double-duty for B2V, captaining the team and heading administrative duties including finding runners, volunteers, follow vehicles and catchers at the end of each leg.
On top of local personnel volunteers, the SCV Sheriff’s Station also utilized several vehicles provided by the Parkway Buick GMC Cadillac dealership.
“It’s an awesome event because it’s not just the running,” Pickard said. “It’s volunteers, runners, and local businesses that would help us out. The GMC dealership even lent us vehicles. A lot went into us getting our butts over to Vegas to suffer.”
The Santa Clarita team was represented, in both running and support roles, by patrol line personnel, detectives, special team deputies, sergeants, and even Capt. Justin Diez and Operations Lt. Brandon Barclay.
The race builds relationships not only within each station but also within the entire law enforcement community. B2V had a national and global reach, too, drawing in runners from New York, Germany and Ethiopia.
“It was insane, you have law enforcement from all over the world,” said Deputy Robert Jensen in a phone interview. “Everyone comes together and you run alongside law enforcement from other states, FBI, etc.”
Jensen has run B2V before but was one of dozens on the support staff for this year’s race.
Runners from different departments encourage one another before, during and after the races, as all participants share the same goal of finishing their leg of the race.
The real fun begins Sunday, when the law enforcement community gets together in Las Vegas for one big party.
The goal remains the same for next year, as the local deputies are already training for the 2024 B2V.
“Everyone has the same singular goal in mind for this race,” Pickard said. “You want to do better for yourself and your team, and if you did your homework, your results looked good. We’re already joking that we only have 51 weeks left until the next one.”
The deputies were not satisfied with their finish but were thrilled to shave an hour off their time. The station will aim to cut its time down yet again but will hope to beat rival stations like Palmdale, Lancaster or Malibu.