Veteran, perennial elite runner Eric Ashton offers thoughts on rising star Michael Banks

In today’s Sports section of the P&C, I wrote a story on Michael Banks amazing running feats in the last two years and his pursuit of the Turkey Day Run 5K record on Thursday.

While Banks has plenty more to prove, his talent appears to be on the level, or better, of some of the long-time and short-time runners in Charleston in the last 35 years. Among them, Bob Schlau, Tom Mather, Marc Embler, Irv Batten, Neil McDonough and Neville Miller.

And while Eric Ashton is only quasi-local (he lives in Columbia but has a place on Daniel Island and has been a regular in the Charleston running scene for 25 years), he is the absolute most accomplished, consistent runner in South Carolina history.

I tried to get Eric’s comments on Banks for the article before deadline because I think Eric is uniquely qualified – and a very fair – person, but it came in too late. Eric himself, unfortunately, has a high ankle sprain and left hamstring tear, so he won’t be running Turkey Day, but offered these observations about Michael.

 I am glad you asked about Michael as he is arguably the most talented male runner to ever reside in South Carolina.

I had heard that he had run mid 13′s on the track for 5000 meters which speaks for itself. When he first moved to the state, he posted some strong times but nothing amazing. 30 and change 10km and mid 14′s for 5km, which used to be the norm at a lot of competitive road races in the 1990′s in South Carolina.

The amazing thing was that he was doing these things without any competition to speak of. He was just time trialing. That tells you something as more recent runners may have had the talent but would routinely run to the level of their competition and just out kick their opponents. Michael just destroys you from the starting line

In 2013,  he has taken his running to the next level posting times that have not been run by SC runners in 20 years and setting some state records taking down times that were once thought to be unobtainable.

The awesome thing is that he is still learning how to race some of these distances especially beyond 10km.

Michael truly is the complete package with a huge aerobic engine as well as lethal closing speed. The time (23:41) he posted for the Mainstreet Crit (8K in Columbia) was amazing and could not remember a non-African born runner posting a faster time since Steve Kartalia ran 23:24 in the Mayfest Quest 8km in the early 1990′s when a lot of runners broke the 24 minute mark just like Saturday night in Columbia.

Michael clearly has the talent and work ethic to own any SC record that he pursues. On top of this he is just such a first class competitor.

Michael clearly has the fitness to set an incredible time on the Turkey Day course which is the greatest 5km race in South Carolina and the highlight of the fall for the elite runners of this state.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>