So much for being a scorcher.
Runners in the Beltline Southwest 5K, which highlighted the historic West End neighborhood, were treated to a cool 65-degree morning and a light mist as they raced around the southwest end of the Beltline.
The Beltline race series is a three-race event designed to highlight different areas of the Beltline around Atlanta that benefits the Atlanta Beltline Partnership.
More than 400 people participated in Saturday's race, which began at Brown Middle School, 765 Peeples St.
in addition to awarding medals for the winners in the standard age categories, pitted the Atlanta Fire Department against the Atlanta Police Department for ultimate bragging rights.
The Police Department came away with all of the hardware, snagging first, second and third place in the competition.
“I’m glad we had an opportunity to join this run,” said Fire Chief Kevin Cochran. “I’m a little disappointed we didn’t come away with a win, but next year I’m going to run in it myself. I’m challenging (police) Chief George next year.”
The course led runners through Atlanta’s historic West End neighborhood and around the southwest Beltline. It even featured a portion of the Beltline that took participants off-road and onto a grassy trail with trees and bridges dotting the landscape.
“It was great getting to run the neighborhoods and see parts of the Atlanta Beltline,” said Nolan Morris, who also ran in the first race of the series, the Northside 5K. “This one was the most fun so far, but I’m definitely going to do the 10K at the end of the year as well. Once I found out about the Beltline (project) I was a supporter and these runs are a great way to support the project.”
The Beltline race series has many unique features that race director Dan Popovich includes to make this series different from any other. This race featured a post-race party at space Atlanta featuring a live band, multiple vendors with booths including the Georgia Force and Atlanta Braves BAT Team, and free beer for all the participants.
In addition to pitting the Fire Department against the Police Department, Popovich also sets up a media category where members of Atlanta’s media can also compete against one another, which is another way to bring awareness to the race series. And it’s one of the few 5K’s in Atlanta that allows runners to participate with their dogs.
Kelly Demestihas stood out in the crowd not because she ran the race with her standard (read: giant) poodle Koko, but because she won first place in her age group and was passing people all along the run. Runners with dogs are asked to start at the back of the pack and she said one runner laughed as he was “being passed by a poodle.”
“This was Koko’s first 5K,” she laughed. “He loves to run, no prance, so I wanted to bring him with me since the weather was so great this morning. Poodles are actually really athletic. I want to start a campaign called ‘Poodles aren’t prissy.’ I loved this run. It was a great showing of the residential area and of the trail. It was great to get a different section of Atlanta.”
The inaugural Atlanta Beltline race series will close out the year on December 3rd with a 10K in Eastside Atlanta.
“This is unique and different from most races,” said director Dan Popovich. “The 10K is just going to be bigger and better. We’ll have more people, more awards, and with every race we do we’re learning more. We’ll have competing running clubs in this next one. And the best part is you’ll get a sneak peak at the eastside trail before it opens in the Highlands area.”
The series has garnered so much positive feedback and generated a new interest in the Beltline project. With one more race left in the series, you’ll want to stay tuned to see what Popovich has up his sleeve to close out the year with a bang.