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Life on the Atlanta BeltLine: Atlanta Triathlon Kids

As the hilliest of the four Atlanta BeltLine trails, the Southwest Connector Spur Trail challenges visitors with a good workout – one of the reasons why Coach Kraig takes his team there to train. Coach Kraig Jennings leads a team of the Atlanta Triathlon Kids which operates out of the Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA. The young triathletes use the hills and curves to build their running and biking skills while using the pool at the YMCA for swimming. In addition to practicing on different terrain, the kids are able to train in a safe, peaceful, shaded environment out of the way of traffic.

And a big bonus? The Southwest Connector Spur Trail is patrolled by the Path Force Unit, a special division of the Atlanta Police Department dedicated to patrolling the parks and trails of the Atlanta BeltLine. The police officers not only encourage the kids, they’ll ride along with them or even hop off their bikes to run along beside them.

“This is going to be our spot. We’re trying to train here every year for the simple fact that I get great results from the [Atlanta] BeltLine. The Atlanta Police Department motivates our kids. It builds a relationship with the Atlanta Police Department and our youth. It’s a hard job, what they’re doing, but when the kids interact with the police officers on the [Atlanta] BeltLine or while they’re training, it gives them an overall different perspective of who the police are.

— Coach Kraig

The Path Force Unit joins the Atlanta Triathlon Kids training team for their workout on the Southwest Connector Spur Trail.

The Path Force Unit joins the Atlanta Triathlon Kids training team for their workout on the Southwest Connector Spur Trail.

The Path Force Unit officers now make it a point to patrol the trail while the kids are training. Coach Kraig and the officers love getting the kids out into a natural environment where they are focused on exercise and away from their electronic devices.

Atlanta Triathlon Kids on the Atlanta BeltLine Southwest Connector Spur Trail

The kids push up one of the bigger hills during training.

As a native Atlantan familiar with local spots, Coach Kraig knew the Atlanta BeltLine was in his neighborhood. As the team transitioned from a developmental swim team to a triathlon team over the course of a few years, the need grew for expanded training locations. Even with other Atlanta BeltLine trails to choose from, the Southwest Connector Spur Trail is his location of choice.

Atlanta Triathlon Kids on the Atlanta BeltLine Southwest Connector Spur Trail

The kids and coaches hit the trail together.

After a season of training, the Atlanta Triathlon Kids team lined up for the start of their race with dark clouds looming on the horizon. But, they had trained too long and hard to let a little rain stop them. With Coach Kraig and Path Force Unit officers cheering them on, the Atlanta Triathlon Kids team rocked their goal of swimming, biking, and running to the finish line. See more photos below!

This video is part of a series. Click here to see more of our Life on the Atlanta BeltLine stories!

This video was produced by Motion Vision Films.

Atlanta Triathlon Kids on the Atlanta BeltLine Southwest Connector Spur Trail

APD's Path Force Unit Officer Andry with the team at the pool on race day.

APD’s Path Force Unit Officer Andry with the team at the pool on race day.

APD's Path Force Unit officers and Coach Kraig supporting the Atlanta Triathlon Kids' team.

APD’s Path Force Unit officers and Coach Kraig supporting the Atlanta Triathlon Kids’ team.

Atlanta Triathlon Kids on race day.

Atlanta Triathlon Kids on race day.

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