After two years of pandemic-related hiatus, the 36th annual Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay was held on April 9-10, 2022. For those unfamiliar with this event, it is a premier, 120-mile foot race from Baker, Calif. to Las Vegas, Nev., that assembles 20 person teams to run the stretch relay style. The teams are mostly comprised of law enforcement personnel.
Started in 1985, the race has 20 stages for each leg, and varying degrees and lengths of difficulty. The organizers had wanted to see the race happen in 2021, but along with a strong communications matrix needed to cover the course, a phalanx of first-responders, medical personnel and emergency services vehicles (like airlifts) were also required. And with the selective and inconsistent mandates and diktats from Governor Hair Gel and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, there was uncertainty about whether this critical infrastructure could be put in place.
From last year’s communique posted on the Baker to Vegas website:
“Since the onset of COVID-19 it seems that the law enforcement community has faced harder and more difficult times as days pass by. It is because of those challenges, we at LAPRAAC have been doing everything we can to try to provide some sort of normalcy by continuing to stage the annual Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay Race. We know how much this means to all of you as it also means so much to us.
“After the 2020 cancellation we immediately started making plans for the 2021 race. Unfortunately, due to the continued pandemic, we have to face the reality that we must cancel the 2021 Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay.
“This is not a decision we have made lightly. For months we have tried to power through the challenges to try at almost any cost to continue this race into 2021. But as our vigor, enthusiasm and drive to conduct the 2021 race continues to propel us forward, the safety and viability of doing so continues to diminish.”
The shortage of medical personnel is real. With both these states, the reasons are multitudinous, complicated, and sadly, self-inflicted. Can you say, “vaccine mandates,” boys and girls? No doubt this factored in, as I will explain later.
My husband and I are Amateur Radio operators, and have participated in the event since 2008 as part of the Ham Communications. Save for one year where we had to drop out, before the pandemic we faithfully took the trek in March or April (depending on weather and when Easter/Passover fell on the calendar). We looked forward to not only supporting this law enforcement cause and the runners, but the challenge of using our radio skills in a real-time situation.
But in terms of our participation, this was a Baker to Vegas that almost didn’t happen. First, we had no clue that this year’s race was actually happening. Our usual channels through Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) or a local amateur radio club were silent. We had also moved regions, so my husband Lynn was just getting incorporated into the local Ham scene.
In early March, much to my surprise, the woman who has the monumental task of organizing communications for the entire event gave me a call and asked if we were participating. I let her know we were unaware that the race was on, and she confirmed that it indeed was. Sadly, the leader of the stage where we had been embedded for the 11 years of our participation demanded that everyone who worked the stage be vaccinated. I asked if this was a requirement of the Baker to Vegas organizers, and she let me know that this decision had been left up to the stage leads. As many of you know from my writings, I am completely OVER the nonsense instituted by the pandemic response and having masks and vaccinations shoved down our throats, so I let her know that if this was going to be a hard and fast requirement, we would not be participating. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the race is in the middle of the desert where there is less than a .0001 percent chance of contracting anything.
Neither me or my husband are vaccinated nor do we plan to be. After looking at the data compared to both our medical histories, the risks far outweigh the benefits. I am well aware that even with all the evidence that shows these so-called vaccines do nothing to prevent anyone from catching or spreading COVID-19, and may even hinder the body’s ability to fight it off, the Branch Covidians and Fauci-ites are still convinced that this is the way.
For me, this is my line in the sand.
It’s not just our country. A close relative invited us to their wedding in Turks & Caicos, but that country requires proof of full vaccination. So, no island vacation for us.
If these are the limitations, I’ll take my medical and body autonomy over temporary pleasures.
Thinking this was a done deal, I was even more surprised when I received a call from her not more than an hour later, asking if we would lead one of the stages ourselves. Apparently like-minded individuals who also choose not to be vaccinated had been grouped on one stage, but it lacked a lead. Amazing how if something is meant to be, a way is made. We went from volunteer participants to volunteer leads faster than you can say Pfizer.
It was definitely a paradigm shift, but with the help of some savvy Las Vegas-based Hams, and other support personnel, we pulled it off.
This year there were 216 teams across the United States and Canada, of all places. Upwards of 8,000 people, encompassing 5,000 runners and support personnel, helped to make the entire enterprise happen. I am always amazed at how quickly it goes, and how triumphant you feel when the last runner comes through the stage, you hand in the timing paperwork, and the stage is struck.
With the attacks on law enforcement through defund the police movements and also through these evil and unconstitutional vaccine mandates placed on law enforcement personnel, the reboot of Baker to Vegas was a shot in the arm (pun intended) for morale, as well as for our freedoms. There was a joy among many of the runners to be able to participate in the event, and to gather close again after two years of forced distancing and masks. There was also lots of joy exhibited by the people who drove by on the highway, through honks of horns and cheers through windows in support of the runners and the race. For the small towns of Baker, Calif. and Pahrump, Nev., who get a huge financial boost from this event, it was a shot in the arm too.
The Los Angeles Angeles Police Department’s Training Team won first place in the Baker to Vegas race. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Elite Team came in second. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva drew his line in the sand last year when he stated that he would not enforce the mask or vaccine mandates instituted by the County of Los Angeles and the governor. Sheriff Villanueva also held the line on not firing law enforcement personnel who refused the vaccines. Fascinating that some of the “pure bloods,” as some unvaccinated chose to call themselves, came out on top in this race. I wonder how many of the race participants were unvaccinated or had natural immunity? Once again, it should never have been made an issue in the first place. The average age of the runners were between 20-40 years. People in the peak of health—hello?! they’re running a foot race in the desert!—who are at little risk from COVID.
Hopefully the reboot of Baker to Vegas can be a symbol of the booting out of these pandemic restrictions and a renewed respect and support for law enforcement.
We were glad we didn’t miss out on the cool swag this year either. We’ll see what next year brings.