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

Jeff Sessions: Incomplete Ga. info in U.S. criminal database a danger
Jeff Sessions: Incomplete Ga. info in U.S. criminal database a danger

The U.S. Department of Justice complains that Georgia, along with other states, is not providing complete information to a national criminal database. And it says this creates a major public safety issue. According to a letter U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent recently to Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, 28 percent of...
Tammy Duckworth makes Senate history, votes with infant daughter in her arms 
Tammy Duckworth makes Senate history, votes with infant daughter in her arms 

Maile Pearl Bowlsbey doesn’t know it, but the 10-day-old infant made history Thursday at the U.S. Senate. Her mother, Tammy Duckworth, became the first person to cast a vote on the Senate floor with her newborn in her arms, The New York Times reported. The Democrat from Illinois participated in Thursday’s vote on the confirmation of...
THE LATEST: Crews battle fire under train trestle
THE LATEST: Crews battle fire under train trestle

Crews are battling a fire under a train trestle in Buckhead. The blaze was reported off Cheshire Bridge Road and Wellbourne Drive, according to Channel 2 Action News. The incident is not impacting traffic, the news station reported. One year ago, there was another fire under the same train trestle. RELATED: Trains moving again after railroad...
Apartment fire displaces at least 19 people in Clayton County
Apartment fire displaces at least 19 people in Clayton County

An apartment fire has displaced at least 19 people in Clayton County. Authorities responded to the fire overnight at the Oak Run Apartment Homes in the 7800 block of North Main Street, Red Cross of Georgia spokeswoman Sherry Nicholson said Friday in a statement. The blaze spread to eight units. “Our volunteers provided emergency...
‘Pleasant’ Friday and Saturday, wet on Sunday
‘Pleasant’ Friday and Saturday, wet on Sunday

Today: Sunny and breezy. High: 69 Tonight: Clear. Low: 43 Tomorrow: Sunny. High: 71 It’s dry now, but that will change over the weekend, according to Channel 2 Action News. “We’re starting out on a chilly note today,” Channel 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said. “But it is going to be warming up for us through Saturday...
More Stories