- Associated Press - Saturday, June 7, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Michael Banks is the most talented runner living and racing in South Carolina now and is making a strong case for being among the most elite resident runners ever.

Banks, who is 27 and works at the Charleston School of Law, has broken long-standing state records in the 12K and 15K and was just four seconds shy of breaking the half-marathon record in November 2013. And his recent times of 14 minutes, 16 seconds in the 5K and 29:54 in the 10K put him within striking distance of those prestigious state records, as well.

“I think (breaking) all of the state records are do-able for me. Over the next year, I would like to break the 5K, 8K, 10K and half marathon (records),” says Banks, adding that the toughest challenge in chasing records is learning to push himself while racing alone.

If the former Georgetown Hoya runner isn’t breaking state records, he’s setting new course records and sweeping up enough prize money to make a modest living out of running races.

But following an incident during on a run on an unusually warm, humid day on Dec. 1, 2013, just days after he won the Turkey Day Run in a record-breaking 14:27, word spread in the local running community that Banks was “allergic to his own sweat.”

Banks, who grew up in Massachusetts but has family in Charleston, first started breaking out in hives while running in the summer of 2005. It started around his armpits, then over the next year, progressed to his neck, chest and around his waist where the waistband of his shorts touched his skin.

The allergy seemed related to sweat or sweat-soaked clothing.

Seasonal allergies developed after the hives started and progressed to itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose during the spring. Despite the hives and seasonal allergies, Banks says he never felt like it was a hindrance or serious issue requiring medication.

In the weeks leading up to Turkey Day last fall, Banks suffered from more severe breakouts.

“During my runs my whole body would be covered in a rash and itch like crazy. Usually I would have to take a Benadryl as soon as I finished my run. There were a few runs that I cut short because I was worried about it,” says Banks.

On Dec. 1, 2013, Banks set out for a 10-mile run and started breaking out and itching.

“My back itched so much about six miles in that I took off my shirt thinking it might be causing irritation. A few minutes later I began experiencing symptoms that were completely new to me. My ears began to feel really warm and I felt like they were starting to close, as if they were swelling shut,” says Banks.

When he felt his uvula (the fleshy flap at the back of the throat) and tongue swelling, he became worried he was going into anaphylactic shock and made a bee-line for home. Before getting there, he stopped at his aunt and uncle’s house to ask if they had Benadryl. They didn’t but decided Michael, who was in a rare panic and having a hard time speaking, needed to go to the emergency room.

“When I took off my shirt and they saw my rash, there was definitely a ‘whoa’ factor (and they said) we’ve got to get some drugs in you ASAP,” recalls Banks.

Later that month, Banks went to see Dr. Bruce Ball at Charleston Allergy & Asthma, who diagnosed it as exercise-induced urticaria and anaphylaxis and has described it as “very irregular and erratic.”

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