Runners have all kinds of tricks for getting motivated. For starters, it helps to set the mood with the right running soundtrack. Another way to fight boredom is to challenge yourself to a new time or distance goal. And if you’ve gotta train anyway, it never hurts to find races that include great crowd support, fun costumes, a party atmosphere and tasty post-race snacks and drinks. On Saturday, walkers and runners can find all of the above at the Beat Beethoven 4-mile run/walk. The event is part of the Taste of the Arts Festival and all proceeds benefit Arts United. The scenic course begins on the Arts United Campus, continues through Headwaters Park, across the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge and along the Rivergreenway, and ends to fanfare in Freimann Square.
During the race, runners will be challenged to “beat Beethoven” by finishing the race in 36 minutes – roughly the time it takes to play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at a relaxed pace. At half-mile increments along the course, string musicians from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Strings and Paul Harding Junior High School will perform the symphony for passing runners. A costumed Beethoven mascot will keep spirits high and set the pace by running the course at the requisite speed.
The race is the brainchild of several local runners, including Carmen Tse, an Arts United board member and runner. Tse was inspired to bring the idea to the Taste of the Arts committee after seeing a similar event in Michigan. “Back in May of 2015, an article in Runner’s World titled “Races offer a Chance to ‘Beat Beethoven’ caught my attention,” she says. “It was a race put on by the Grand Rapids Ballet as a clever promotion of one of their productions. As a runner who appreciates classical music, I thought it was a brilliant idea to marry arts and fitness into one event. Though it’s not a new idea, it has never been done in Fort Wayne.”
The race is a fitting fundraiser for Arts United, a nonprofit that provides support to local arts organizations like ARCH, Artlink Contemporary Gallery, Fort Wayne Ballet, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Cinema Center, Civic Theatre, Historical Society, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, FAME, the YouTheatre and Voices of Unity.
Even the event sponsorship has a creative, tongue-in-cheek Beethoven theme. “We are excited to be partnering with HearCare Connection, an organization that provides hearing healthcare to under-served and under-insured men, women and children in Northeast Indiana,” says Tse. “One of the most surprising facts about Ludwig van Beethoven is that he was deaf. Instead of allowing deafness to overwhelm him, he began a period of prodigious and brilliant composition. This partnership with HearCare recognizes how art is powerful and inclusive. Even the most severely disabled individuals can, through their senses, appreciate the joy of the arts. Arts bring individuals with disabilities great joy and build high self-esteem.”
For runners and walkers of all ages and paces, the race is a fun way to burn calories before chowing down at the Taste of the Arts Festival. In addition to donuts, fruit and chocolate milk at the finish line, race participants will receive food and drink vouchers for the festival.
This year’s Taste of the Arts Festival begins with a kickoff celebration on Friday, August 26th at 6pm, and continues Saturday from 11am to 7pm. Along with other festival happenings, the run/walk is another opportunity for Fort Wayne residents to come together and celebrate our city’s vibrant, diverse cultural community.
“This event is about building community and having fun along the way,” says Tse, “Arts and wellness can marry nicely together, they are both is inclusive and diverse. The arts transcend boundaries, unifying diverse individuals into one community. This event, along with Taste of the Arts Festival, supports Arts United’s mission to advance the creative sector by mobilizing resources to elevate our community’s quality of life.”
For more information, visit the event’s registration page or Facebook event page. To get pumped on race day, I recommend channeling John Travolta’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” vibe from Saturday Night Fever.
The Beat Beethoven 4-mile Run/Walk
Date: Saturday, August 27, 2016
Time: Race starts at 8:30am
Cost: $30 – Register online through August 25th or in-person at packet pickup or on race day
Distance Options: 4-mile run/walk and 1-mile Fun Run (for kids 12 and under)
Packet Pickup: 6pm Friday and 7am Saturday at the Arts United Center