Sunday, April 18, 2010

Run for it Ludwig!

From the Fairbanks Daily News, via James Baker:

Jason Walker was among the most surprised people on Saturday morning in the Beat Beethoven Run. He was also the fastest person in the 5-kilometer race.
The 32-year-old engineer finished in 16 minutes, 13.4 seconds in his first entry in the race, which has participants move around the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus while Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is being played through various means — live musicians, boom boxes and car stereos.
The object of the race, which is a fundraiser for the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, is to complete the course before the final chord of the symphony, which lasts 30 minutes, 47 seconds, according to Eduard Zilberkant, the orchestra’s music director and conductor.
Anyone who finished before the symphony ended received a free pass to a Fairbanks Symphony concert during the upcoming season.
Approximately 774 people finished the race and a record 820 entered the 16th edition of the event. It was 153 more entries than the previous registration high of 667 in 2008, according to John Estle, the race’s timing contractor.
Several people were still registering Saturday, five minutes before Zilberkant stood on a ladder and waved his baton to signal the start of the race.
“They’re still signing up. You’ve got to love it!,” exclaimed Steve Bainbridge, a race director who has annually dressed up as Ludwig van Beethoven. Bainbridge’s outfit featured a top hat, gray wig, black coat with tails and a tuxedo.
Matthew Scerbak was the overall runner-up Saturday in 17:01.1, and Werner Hoefler finished third in 17:08.1. Jane Leblond earned the women’s title with a finish of 19:36.8, and Melanie Nussbaumer was second among the women in 20:12.5. Katie Moerlein took third in 20:37.7.
Walker was introduced to the race last March when he and his wife, Riva, came up for a visit from Anchorage, where they lived until moving to Fairbanks in October. His wife is a fine arts graduate student at UAF.
“We saw flyers for it when we came up here, and it looked kind of fun,” he said, “but I didn’t know that Beethoven was played for the entire race.”
Walker enjoyed the symphony while posting the fastest time on the course that ran up Tanana Loop toward the University of Alaska Museum of the North and later finished in the parking lot of the Patty Center.
“It was great because I didn’t get any songs stuck in my head,” Walker said.
“Usually when you’re running, you get a song stuck in your head and it’s ‘ahhhh!,’ and you just want to kill yourself,” he added jokingly.
Walker was alluding to “Shipoopi” from the movie “The Music Man,” which the Walkers watched last week.
“I was so happy that Beethoven was playing,” Walker said, “because that’s (Shipoopi) been rolling through my head on all my (training) runs since we watched that and that’s been driving me nuts.”
Walker drove himself to the overall title because he said he didn’t do much training during the winter.
“I didn’t expect to run that time because I haven’t been running as much as I normally do,” said Walker, who competed for Humboldt State University in California from 1998-2003, and briefly ran with the Team Eugene club in Oregon during the 2000s.
“I haven’t done any speed work this year, and it’s hard running in negative 20 weather all winter,” he said. “I just go out and run and do what I can, and I was surprised I had anything left in me at the end of the race.”
Walker also overcame a stomach cramp during the race.
“I love the course, it has a nice hill,” he said. “When you’re coming downhill, it’s nice to have some uphill to back you up because I had a big fat stomach cramp, but the uphill pushed it out.”
After Walker crossed the finish line, Scerbak got a push from three runners who were within 18 seconds of him.
After Hoefler finished, Mike Kramer came in at 17:15.7 and David Apperson followed in fifth place at 17:19.8.
Jana Benedix was the fourth-fastest woman in 20:40.4 and Krista Heeringa took fifth in 20:55.3.

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