Forty Irvine Officers Run the Longest Foot Pursuit in the World!
Over the weekend, the Irvine Police Department participated in the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay. Referred to as the largest police foot pursuit in the world, the relay covers 120 miles of treacherous desert, ranges from 700 to 5,500 feet above sea level, and is segmented into 20 legs ranging from 4.0 to 10.7 miles. The weather for this event has been recorded from blizzard conditions to over 110 degrees on the pavement depending on the time of year and the leg of the race.
This year, over 50 members of the department made the trek out to the dessert to represent the department. Twenty runners from each team, their alternate runners, and approximately 25-30 additional department and community volunteers all worked together to make it a successful event.
Team Captain Sgt. Steve Wolf was an alternate on the 300 Division Team along with Arthur Guo and Eric Stevens. The roster included: Matt Ricci, Pat Hurtado, Shane Holloway, Sean Paul Crawford, Barry Miller, Gil Garcia, Matt McLaughlin, Shaheen Jahangard-Mahboob, Ray Velarde, Dave Hernandez, Bill Whalen, Jesse Busta, Jeff Alexen, Mike Bryant, Nick Kim, Jonathan Sampson, Kyle Turner, Micah Phelan, Dave Gibbs, and Blake Reutershan.
This is the 21st year Irvine Police Department has fielded a team in this race. The race stresses sportsmanship, camaraderie and teamwork. The team featured all ranks from Police Officer to Chief of Police, and truly does bring the department closer together for a common goal. Also of note this year is Senior Officer Dave Gibbs. Gibbs ran his 17th and final Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup, capping off a stellar career spanning 30 years. Word has it Dave may return to run as a retiree!
Team Captain Lt. Julia Engen was an alternate on the Women’s Division Team (Team Jane), along with Cathy Scherer, Melissa Porter, and Karie Davies. The roster included: Carrie Egan, Vicky Hurtado, Kristi Valentine, Stacy Smith, Traci Fischer, Jennifer Johnsen, Melissa Partida, Leticia Hernandez, Nicole Frantz, Fanny Hom, Kendra Aceto, Christina Kim, Alex Lopez, Lisa Peasley, Britt Vickner, Amelia Metevia, Noelle Smiley, Rhonda Wood, Jaclyn Aguirre, and Sarah Tunnicliffe.
Team Jane is named in honor of Officer Jane Golden who died in 2009 of Breast Cancer. Jane was a member of the Baker to Vegas team in 1998, 1999, and 2000, the year she was diagnosed with the cancer. The women ran in honor of her strength and grace, and to set an example for young women in the community.
Providing one race course volunteer per team is a mandatory requirement of participation. This year Police Officer Kayla Wiebe and Armorer John Spencer spent their weekend volunteering with logistics for the relay exchange points which made it possible for the teams to compete.
Additional department volunteers were Heidi Falsetto, Allyson Maddy, Sinclair Fleming, Solira Tiev, Suzanne Witt, Mike Fender, Bill Kirsanoff, Bob LaTouche, and Laurie Librojo. Additionally, Irvine Disaster Communication (IDEC) volunteers Dave Maurer, Kurt Rieck, Pete Bergstrom, Brian Walker, Tom Hobbs, and Randy Kolar roamed the race course providing radio communications and relaying information from the desert to the command post in Las Vegas.
Thanks to the department personnel who remained behind in Irvine and maintained full staffing levels, these athletes were able to compete in this now international event in the sprit of camaraderie. They proudly represented the Irvine Police Department and the profession of law enforcement, volunteering their own time and at their own personal expense.
Congratulations to all the participants and volunteers for representing the Irvine Police Department in force!