Metro Focus: Beltline bound


Run the Beltline … not just the completed, marked, paved Beltline, but the entire 22-mile loop.

I don’t know exactly how the idea came to me, because it took shape slowly. Living just a block off an unfinished section of the Beltline and having Ryan Gravel, the brains behind the Beltline concept, as a neighbor certainly helped spark the idea.

Taking up running and discovering a love for long distances and varying surroundings stoked the embers. Curiosity as to how the city would be connected and changed as the Beltline took shape fanned the flame, and a love for adventure was gas on the fire.

Even if it was a crazy idea, I had to do it. The big question was: How?

I knew there would be some sketchy areas and plenty of unknown hazards (which, as it turned out, included briar thickets, rushing streams, homeless camps, unmarked trails and roads without sidewalks).

Not something I wanted to attempt alone. Besides, something this cool deserved to be shared with friends.

I immediately thought of Kieran Reynolds and Mike Cosentino. Kieran is an architectural photographer and my main training and racing partner. Mike is founder of Big Peach Running Company and a long-time ultrarunner. Both said yes before I could even finish laying out the idea. We rounded out our group with Mike’s friend Philip Croley, an ultrarunner who works for running manufacturer Pearl Izumi.

Now that I had a crew, I needed to figure out exactly where we were going. I soon discovered that there is no definitive map. Project engineers still aren’t sure how they’ll connect the more obvious sections of the loop.

Using the best maps I could find, I identified what looked like the most logical connections, but that left me with a list of a dozen stretches that could be problematic. I did some light scouting of these areas, so I had a pretty good idea of our options, but I didn’t actually go out on the route beforehand. I wanted the run to be an adventure.

As dawn broke clear and cold on a Friday at the end of February, Kieran, Mike, Philip and I set out from the Big Peach Running Company store in Midtown. We headed for the corner of 10th and Monroe, where we would start our run on the paved and heavily used Beltline Eastside Trail, traveling the loop clockwise.

Four guys with a sketchy map, an iPhone, a love of running and only the vaguest idea of what lay ahead …

Follow Ben Gray and other AJC multimedia photojournalists on our Facebook page: AJC photos.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Boy, 12, in serious condition after being hit by vehicle
Boy, 12, in serious condition after being hit by vehicle

A 12-year-old boy was in serious condition after he was hit by a vehicle Wednesday evening in DeKalb County, police said. The incident happened about 5:40 p.m. in the 2000 block of Wallingford Drive, spokeswoman Shiera Campbell said. The child was taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, Campbell said. The driver remained on the...
NTSB investigates Delta ‘go-around’ over Hartsfield-Jackson taxiway
NTSB investigates Delta ‘go-around’ over Hartsfield-Jackson taxiway

A Delta Air Lines flight that had to execute a ‘go-around’ over a taxiway at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport sparked an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. The Nov. 29 incident involved Delta flight 2196 on a Boeing 737-900ER from Indianapolis that was landing in Atlanta. The flight was cleared to land on...
2 get life in prison for shooting man, burning his body in Clayton County
2 get life in prison for shooting man, burning his body in Clayton County

Three people were sentenced Wednesday for their roles in the death of a 24-year-old man in Clayton County, with family members of the victim turning out to share their thoughts. Frederick Marsalia Rosenau and Lavarr Rasheed Pierce  were sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing Quincy Suggs at a Jonesboro home in September 2014, according...
WATCH: NFL player has heated exchange with police during arrest
WATCH: NFL player has heated exchange with police during arrest

“I got money, that’s why I can talk.” That’s about the only thing Seattle Seahawks rookie defensive tackle Malik McDowell said to police during a Sunday arrest that is fit to print. The NFL player — who has yet to see any action after he was hurt in an ATV crash before the season started — is facing a...
DeKalb police shot 25 times more black people than whites
DeKalb police shot 25 times more black people than whites

From 2010 through 2016, the DeKalb County Police Department’s officers shot 25 black people but only one white person. That revelation comes from a VICE News investigation that examined data from the nation’s 50 largest police departments. VICE said it found that DeKalb police had the highest racial disparity in shootings, though some...
More Stories