Faster than the Fifth: Symphony hosts annual Beat Beethoven race

Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star Reporter
April 16, 2013

Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra Director Eduard Zilberkant starts the race at the Beat Beethoven 5K on Saturday, April 13, 2013. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star

Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra Director Eduard Zilberkant starts the race at the Beat Beethoven 5K on Saturday, April 13, 2013. Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star

On a crisp Saturday morning, runners and Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra supporters met at the UAF Patty Center to “Beat Beethoven” in below freezing temperatures The five kilometer race marked its 19th year with over 800 runners participating in the annual spring fundraiser, according to Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra Music Director Eduard Zilberkant.

The race began at 11 a.m. when KSUA General Manager Rebecca File began the live radio 10 second count down to the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra recording of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. As the music started, runners took off in hopes of finishing before the 18th century composer.

“There’s going to be somebody dressed up as Beethoven who has the actual symphony time which is about 30 minutes, 30 seconds and if everybody finishes ahead of him they beat Beethoven and that’s basically the point of the event,” Zilberkant said. Finishers receive a voucher to attend next season’s symphony performances if they beat Beethoven.

Racers ran 3.1 miles traveling around Westridge, above Moore-BartlettBS Complex, past the Taku Lot and up the hill back to the UAF Patty Center.

“Along the track there are a lot of places where people are standing with boom boxes or car radios so that runners can hear it throughout the entire course,” Zilberkant said.

While some racers were in it to beat Beethoven, others were hoping just to avoid embarrassment.

“The most humiliating thing is when you’re running along and a mother with two kids in a stroller passes you,” said Music graduate student Emerson Eads, who finished before the final note of the symphony recording.

After the race, finishers were met with refreshments of Gatorade and fruit outside of the UAF Patty Center where the finishing chute was set up.

“I didn’t beat Beethoven last year either,” Geology graduate student Gabrielle Vance said after the race. “It’s just for fun. If I get a ticket great, but if not, no worries,” said Vance laughing.

Children and adults signed up for the race online and day of with three different price structures: early bird registration costing $20, late registration costing $30, and day of registration costing $40. All participants received a t-shirt with their entrance fee.

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