Every year there is a relay competition that is held in the United States with the competitors being career law enforcement officers from around the world. The event is held each year in March and come 2016, Belize will be taking part in the Challenge Cup/Baker to Vegas Relay event for the very first time. Nellie Martinez, one of the coordinators spoke to Love News on the event and Belize’s involvement.
“Its a challenge relay race where law enforcement agencies come together to compete to prove their physical fitness. The race promotes camaraderie amongst these agencies around the world. The race has been going on for 31 years which will make the 32 next year where Belize will be participating March 9th and 20th of 2016. Mr.Arthur Pitts is a Belizean living in the United States along with honorable Sedi Elrington. We got an invitation to participate in this race through them so that is how we got involved in this race.
The team of seven women and twenty three men are going to California, USA with the team name, Belize Protectors. Captain of the team is Belize’s Brigadier General, David Jones of theBelize Defense Force. Jones spoke on what can be expected in the actual competition.
“The relay is 120 miles each runner is expected to do an average of six miles and the timing to beat is under eight minutes per mile for the duration of the time so we are expected to have at least twenty runners taking part and we have in alternates at least five of them. The category Belize will be entering is a mixed category which means that we’ve got five females that are expected to run so we are taking five female runners who will definitely run and we will have an alternative of two female runners so in case one or two of the females are not able to complete their leg they will be able to substitute for them in the race and that is the same for the male runners. We are taking 15 male runners and we are taking three alternate male runners so in case something goes wrong then we have somebody to substitute for them. We are taking at least 25 runners. “
As for the training aspect, Jones says all units have begun training and the process of elimination will take place on the local level will take place soon.
“Training has commenced already. There is a training program, the different agencies they are all doing their selection process, we’ve selected our men already, men and in our case the women who are going to take part in the race. They have been training for months now so the selection process next year is where we will select the best runners. Even though we want to have members from each agency the timing that they do run is going to determine who is going to actually make the final cut and be on the team. So the twenty five people that have the best time will be the team that will go and represent Belize in the Baker to Las Vegas race next year. “
Superintendent of Police, Lynden Flowers of the Belize Police Department spoke to Love News on the participants of the police force.
“As far as it goes for the police I am targeting and we have set the gentlemen who have done us well in the football competition those are the persons we are targeting who are serving members of the police department who have had international experience and we are looking for them to come up with the best time for them to be a part of the race come March. One of the persons working very closely is Sgt. Gamboa and he is looking forward to providing the persons for us. We are training differently from the BDF and Coast Guard because we have all the anti-crime activities coming on for the December but it’s a smaller teams and that team of officers are stationed in Belmopan so they will have the George Price Highway and the Hummingbird Highway which is their backyard to do the training in. We will look at the training regimen this morning and Mr.Ian Grey will be making some recommendations and doing the talent spotting this morning for the police. “
As was mentioned earlier, there will be twenty five persons traveling to the US for the competition in March 2016. It is a costly venture and with that the national security forces are asking for assistance in raising one hundred thousand dollars.
“Logistics is important and financing is important because for all these runners and the people who are going to take part we need to pay for plane tickets, hotels, meals, rental of vehicles, rental of equipment, rental of markers and then all logistics and feeding that is going to be in place is going to cost money. So we are looking at about an average of $85,000 to $100,000 Belize dollars we need to raise so we are going to solicit from the general public here in Belize. We are doing the same with the diaspora in the US we’ve got a committee looking at pr and also looking at donations for us so apart from here in Belize we are looking at Belizeans in the US who are going to support us as well so we are going to need a lot of donations and assistance and we are asking for the support of our locals and Belizeans abroad to support this team.”
“We are currently setting up a website where visitors will be able to go on to the website to see what is going on. We are asking for donations of anything that will assist us in reaching near that $100,000 Belize dollars before March.”
Brigadier General David Jones is the Captain of the Belize Protectors with the Vice Captain being from the Belize Coast Guard and the Honorary Captain being the Minister of National Security, John Saldivar.