Can you Beat Beethoven? Annual 5k event goes virtual after cancelation last year

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 6:54 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The annual Beat Beethoven 5-kilometer race typically signifies the start of the organized running season as one of the first events on the summer schedule. The event hosted by the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra was canceled all together last year as the world adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the organization is offering the fan-favorite event virtually this year.

The 27th annual Beat Beethoven (virtual) 5K began April 9 and will run through April 18 at the time and location of the participant’s choosing. The goal of the race is to cover 5 kilometers of ground before the conclusion of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, conducted by the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, which is just over 30 minutes long.

“Even for me personally this has been a challenge, I have been with the symphony for 11 years and I finally beat Beethoven this year,” said race coordinator and managing director of the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra Jenni Warren. “It is so cool to say, ‘okay, I am going to push play and before the end of this piece, I am going to be done with my 5k.’ It really is a good motivator, whether you’re familiar with the piece or not, to just get it in done before that last note in the piece.”

The event is traditionally held toward the beginning of April, with the start and finish at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. UAF’s COVID policies prevent large gatherings from taking place, so Beat Beethoven went virtual, which was better than last year’s result of having to cancel. After the first weekend of the event, Warren was happy to see the community’s engagement.

“I am really surprised at how well it has gone, people are pretty enthusiastic that we have found a way to do this and so am I,” she added. “I am getting messages saying, ‘hey I did it!’. It is a different experience, but altogether very cool this year.”

After registering for the race at, participants can pick up their t-shirt at Mt. McKinley Bank’s main branch downtown. Once the participant has completed the five kilometers via running/walking outdoors, on a track, on a treadmill, or however they choose, times can be submitted to Chronotrak. Those who complete their course before the last note of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony will receive a voucher for free digital admission to any future Fairbank Symphony Orchestra concert performance (with the exception of the Holiday Concert).

“This particular race is very historically important to the Symphony because you’re not just running a race, you’re supporting a nonprofit organization here in Fairbanks,” said Warren. “It is is extremely special that such a small town in such a large state has a symphony orchestra for people to eventually be able to attend concerts again. It helps keep us going.”

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