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Mar 3, 2016

Baker to Las Vegas, Belize Prepares to Take on the Challenge

A team of law enforcement athletes from Belize will be making their first appearance at the Challenge Cup/Baker to Vegas Relay in the U.S.  They will be competing among eight hundred teams from numerous countries in a foot race that will take them from Baker, California to Las Vegas, Nevada covering a hundred and twenty miles. It is a race that is grueling and will test their endurance, but the officers are not fazed by the challenge. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The world’s most prestigious and unique law enforcement foot race, Baker to Vegas, is a hundred and twenty miles of pavement.  There are twenty stages of relay and over eight thousand runners competing in the challenge.  Since its establishment in 1985, this is the first time Belize has ever been invited to participate in the event.  A team of twenty-five athletes, men and women from various branches of law enforcement, is up to the task.


Loretta Garbutt

WPC Loretta Garbutt, Runner, Gang Suppression Unit

“Running is something that I love to do.  I’ve been doing running for many years, from since primary school.  Since I got into [the] police [department] I got into more shape and doing this training just adds on a little more on top of that because we do different types of techniques to learn how to run to build speed, to build stamina and to build endurance.”


The course begins twenty-five miles north of Baker, California on Highway 127 and finishes inside the Hilton Hotel Convention Room in Las Vegas.  The Challenge Cup/Baker to Vegas Relay is a national and international event in the United States.  Team Belize is being coached by Ian Gray.


Ian Gray

Ian Gray, Coach, Belize National Team, B2V

“This challenge will take place on the nineteenth and twentieth of March from Baker, California to Las Vegas, Nevada.  It’s a hundred and twenty mile race.  Belize was invited initially to this race late last year through Mr. Arthur Pitts by an extension of an invitation to Honorable Sedi Elrington and who teamed up with the Minister of [National Security] John Saldivar for this one.  So we have the B.D.F. represented, the coastguard and the police.  We had a trial on the sixteenth of January from mile thirty-eight on the George Price Highway and the top fifteen men we took and the top five women we took.  So our team is comprised of twenty runners and we will participate in the mixed section.  So we have about approximately three hundred teams in our division but the entire race has about eight hundred teams.”


The current champions are a team from the Los Angeles Police Department.  In 2014 the LAPD completed the grueling challenge in twelve hours, forty-nine minutes and fifty-two seconds.  Representing the Belize Defense Force is Ernesto Villafranco.


Ernesto Villafranco

Ernesto Villafranco, Runner, B.D.F. Special Force

“I’ve been running long before this event so I ready before we even start train.  But the training with wi group nice because as a team, todeh I noh might feel strong but one ah my teammate he might feel strong and he might pull the pace and we work together cause dah noh everyday you might ga wahn off day and somebody wah deh right deh fi motivate yo.  And training-wise, we train eena di sun, as yo could sih right now we try ketch di aftanoon sun.  We train da mawnin, even da night.  Sometime we run up di Marion Jones steps fi hill work, we do sohn techniques and different other things we do.”


Isani Cayetano

“This is a hundred and twenty miles of running, albeit in a relay fashion.  It seems quite grueling and taxing on the body.  How prepared are you for this kind of a challenge?”


Ernesto Villafranco

“Well, I know I prepared because di time weh I di mek now match up to the time outside.  Most ah wi runners di mek close to the time outside, so dah so we know that we prepared.  And we di try do wahn last minute challenge fi bring down da time deh and each runner wah run ‘bout six miles too, and this wahn be wah day run and night run.”


Teams are scheduled to run in eleven flights, depending on their ability, with flights starting hourly from nine a.m. to five p.m.  In Belize City, the Marion Jones Sporting Complex is the venue for training.


Ian Gray

“Preparation has been going on since late September.  So the teams initially got training programs to coach themselves and put forward the best unit up to late December.  From December then the coaching staff came in, we had a trial in mid-January and since mid-January they’ve been in a special camp where the regiment would be seven days a week they go.  After seven days they go twice a day for three days.”


It is that state of physical and mental readiness that has Shawdi Reyes, a cadet officer with the Belize National Coast Guard, pumped up for the big race.


Shawdi Reyes

Shawdi Reyes, Runner, BNCG

“I am physically ready and mentally, we are being trained everyday to be prepared mentally because we can be physically trained but then mentally sometimes we may not be.  But we’re building on that.”


Isani Cayetano

“Eight hundred teams, Belize is only one small team of twenty-five members, are you in any way anxious going into this event?”


Shawdi Reyes

“Yes, I am anxious to participate because I know we will all put our effort, we all come from different backgrounds, we all want to conquer something.  We want to go out there and win, we want to represent Belize, be proud of our country and as public officers we will do our best.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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