Fairbanks runners race in 22nd annual Beat Beethoven
Erin McGroarty / Sun Star
It was a brisk spring morning when Fairbanks runners raced against the clock in an effort to “beat Beethoven.” The goal was to finish the 5 kilometer race course in approximately 28 minutes, before the final note of Beethoven’s iconic fifth symphony.
This annual race, held this year on Saturday, April 16, is set up on the UAF campus, starting and finishing in front of the Patty Center. The course leads runners up the hill above the Georgeson Botanial Garden, across West Ridge and down around the new Engineering Building on Tanana Loop.
The music, recorded by the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestera and played by UAF’s college radio station, KSUA, blared from a set of speakers near the finish line in the Patty Center parking lot. Runners are able to hear the music at the start and finish of the race, as well as select spots along the course where the music is piped in.
The sound system playing the music was set up by Gary Toth, director of Performance Operations at Davis Concert Hall.
During the race, Toth stood by his pick-up truck where the sound system was set up, adjusting dials and nobs. Toth said this was his second year volunteering to run sound for the race but he would love to continue to do so in the future.
“These are my favorite toys I get to play with,” Toth said gesturing to the sound equipment. “And it’s a really great event.”
Long time Fairbanks resident Don Kiely dressed up as Beethoven and ran the race as a pace keeper with the piece of music. His job is to cross the finish line on last note of the symphony.
“I’m the official Beethoven,” Kiely said, pointing to his bib that read #1. “Everyone who beats me gets a ticket, everyone who’s behind me doesn’t.”
Kiely has run the race for eight years, but clarified this is only his second year running as Beethoven. He said he would love to do it again next year if race officials ask him.
First place was secured in a close final sprint by AJ Schirack, formerly of Fairbanks. Schirack, who now lives in Wasilla, has run this race three times before, he said. Shirack also won first place three years ago.
“I wasn’t really worried about the time,” Schirack said. “I just wanted to go out there and give it my best and have a good time, which I did.”
Schirack finished the race in just over 14 minutes.
According to race officials, more than 1,000 runners registered for the race this year.
All proceeds from registration fees go to support the orchestra throughout their season. As an incentive, all the racers who finish the race before the symphony is over receive tickets to see the Fairbanks Symphony perform.
As the symphony came to a close more than half of the runners had completed the race, but some still remained. KSUA did their best to keep the remaining runners motivated by following the symphony with the theme song from movie, Chariots of Fire.