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Man runs 5K dressed as downtown Tampa building

Patrick Thorpe, dressed up as the Rivergate Tower, reaches the starting line before the Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K.
Patrick Thorpe, dressed up as the Rivergate Tower, reaches the starting line before the Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K.
Published Feb. 22, 2015

TAMPA — The Rivergate Tower, affectionately known as the beer can building, has been a landmark of downtown Tampa since its construction in 1988. But Saturday, during the Gasparilla 5K, it ran through the streets of the city.

Patrick Thorpe, an architect for Jerel McCants Architecture in Ybor City, has always loved buildings, their history and his craft. He wants more people to do the same. So before the Gasparilla Distance Classic he designed the building to scale and had it created at International Sign Company in Pinellas Park.

"I just wanted to do something that would show people buildings are alive, to bring architecture back to the forefront of the conversation in the community," Thorpe said. "It may have someone else's name on it right now, but the building belongs to the community."

Thorpe, 30, wasn't sure what time he ran. But that wasn't the point of his participation.

Running has long been a hobby for the Florida International graduate. Thorpe said he runs a 5K every Tuesday, and bikes from MacDill Air Force Base to his office in Ybor City, 10 miles each way, every morning.

For Thorpe, Saturday was about combining his hobby with his passion.

The costume, which featured the exact number of windows found on the real Rivergate Tower, had a diameter of 3 feet, 6 inches, stood 10 feet tall and had windows cut out so Thorpe could see. It made his run hot, Thorpe said, but it was manageable.

Thorpe plans to attend other city events dressed as the beer can building, including the upcoming Gasparilla Music Festival. And in next year's 5K, he doesn't want to just go as a building, he wants to be part of a city.

"I'm hoping next year to do it bigger, better and have another building run with me," Thorpe said.

A competitive comeback: Edie Allardice had been running for 30 years when she had to take a year off for the birth of her 8-month-old daughter, Edith. But in her first race back, Saturday's Gasparilla 5K, Allardice learned she hasn't lost a thing.

Coming in at 19 minutes, 9 seconds, the Halifax, Nova Scotia, native won the women's 5K, beating second-place Kailand Cosgrove of Tarpon Springs by just two seconds.

Because of confusion at the finish line with 15K finishers still coming in, Allardice, 38, was accidently pushed to the side before her finish, mistaken for a 15K runner. She didn't get to break the tape, but Allardice didn't seem to mind. She was back doing what she loves, and winning.

Allardice, in Tampa for the week visiting in-laws, said she prefers longer events — she has run four marathons — but decided to take baby steps on her come back.

Still, she hasn't lost the competitive edge.

"They were gaining on me at the end," Allardice said of the second- and third-place finishers. "(I'm not competitive) in life, but when the gun goes off, yes, I'm very competitive."

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This and that: Evan Quinones, 20, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., won the men's 5K in 15:36, one second faster than last year's winner. The freshman at Florida Southern College runs the 800 on the track and field team. … Ariel Rausin won the wheelchair 15K in 43:18, several minutes faster than second place. … The Distance Classic had a record attendance, with more than 30,000 entered the weekend's four races, all of which were sold out.

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