Two members of Cal Poly Pomona’s Police Department were part of the CSU Police Department Running Team that won the “500 Invitational” division in the 2017 Baker to Vegas/Challenge Cup Relay.
Every spring, thousands of police officers compete in the Baker to Vegas/Challenge Cup Relay, a grueling race through the desert from Baker, California to Las Vegas, Nevada.
The race is a one-day, 20-stage, 120-mile trek. Begun by Los Angeles Police Department officers more than 30 years ago, hosting 19 teams, the race hosted 280 teams that represented branches of law enforcement from all over the world.
The CSU Police Department Running Team, composed of sworn and civilian CSU police employees and support staff from throughout the state, consists of 24 runners and 30 volunteers from 18 of the 23 CSU campuses.
Cal Poly Pomona Public Safety Specialist Daniel Fiala ran stage three, a 4.2-mile uphill stretch in temperatures soaring above 100 degrees. It was his first Baker to Vegas run. Police Chief Dario Robinson, who has run the race almost every year since it began, ran the penultimate stage 19, a 5.7 mile level stretch. Starting his run at 3 a.m., he could see the lights of Las Vegas in the distance.
The CSU team has become a force to be reckoned with. At this year’s contest held on March 25-26, they took home their third division championship in six years. With a time of 16:07:37, they were 14 minutes ahead of the second place team.
The win comes with bragging rights and a trophy mug, but they are byproducts of the team’s main goal: to unify campus police throughout the CSU system.
“Deep friendships and relationships have developed over the years amongst all ranks between members of different CSU campuses from around the state,” said CSU Channel Islands Officer Arnie Camp, who serves as team captain.
“It’s incredible,” agrees Robinson. “Within the CSU organization, it brings everyone together as a team working towards one goal. It’s also bigger than that…. You see all of the law enforcement agencies, the vans, the people talking to each other and are reminded that you all share a common bond. You are all part of the worldwide law enforcement family, from federal agencies and state law enforcement to city police departments.”
Teamwork is essential to finishing the challenging race. As each runner completes his or her stage of the race, volunteers help them reach the finish line. They also provide communication support and monitor the runners for injuries or heat-related illnesses.
In their competitive division, the “500 Invitational,” the CSU team was up against 32 other teams representing police departments with up to 500 officers. This included departments from the cities of Pomona, Riverside and San Bernardino.
The CSUPD Running Team is completely volunteer-based, so runners and support staff use their own time and money to compete. They also rely on generous donations and sponsorships. Learn more about the team at www.csupd.com.
(Elizabeth Chapin of the CSU Chancellor’s Office contributed to this story.)