Profile of Master Runner George Banker
by Bob Platt,
George Banker is well known in the Washington area as a master runner and Operations Manager of the Army 10 Miler.
George was 32 when he started running. He worked at IBM and participated in a race at a company picnic. He started serious training with the goal of beating his Branch Manager and ended up running a 12-minute mile. Through IBM he met members of the Rock Creek Running Club (RCRC), and quickly joined.
IBM also sent a team to the 1984 Corporate Cup Relays, which was directed by Dan Rincon. He enjoyed it so much that they affiliated with the U.S. Corporate Athletic Association and put on a regional corporate competition for 9 years. Because Dan dropped out as Race Director, George graduated from runner to race organizer.
During that era, most local clubs were affiliated with DC Road Runners (DCRRC) as an umbrella group, and the RCRC was no exception. Each club conducted one of DCRRC’s low-key races, and as a result, George ended up directing the DCRRC Langley 8K for nine years. This led George to join DCRRC in 1983, where he scored its Bunion Derby series using a typewriter instead of a computer and spreadsheet program. This data collection experience led him to become the DCRRC Historian and the USATF record keeper for DC.
Banker started writing about running when he was sent to the 2000 Olympic Trials to cover it for an Army publication. He then wrote a running column for the Journal newspapers.
Last year, Banker published The Marine Corps Marathon: A Running Tradition, a book on the history of that race. Banker got the idea of the book in 2000, when his cousin who was starting a book publishing company asked him if he had any book ideas. Banker is no stranger to the race, as he ran his first MCM in 1983 and grew up living on the Quantico Marine Base. His father served in the Corps for 24 years and his stepfather for 30 years.
At Banker’s request, the MCM issued a press release asking for interesting MCM stories. Banker then interviewed 100 people for the book, and had to track various interviewees down from around the country. Banker explained that “Every race has its own soul,” and that he wanted to write the book because the MCM’s soul was obscured by the change in race administrations every two years, as Marines were rotated to other assignments. However, in recent years, the MCM now has a permanent civilian staff.
Banker found he enjoyed race management more than his traditional day jobs. So, in 2003, he joined the Army 10 Miler as its Operation Manager. He has also directed the DCRRC Washington Birthday Marathon Relay from 1989-99, and served on the race committee of a number of local races including: the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis, the GW Parkway 15K, the MS Half Marathon, the Sallie Mae 10K, Lawyers Have Heart 10K, Navy 5 Miler, PVI Runfest, and Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.
Banker’s personal bests include a 3:04:32 marathon, a 1:22:40 half marathon, and a 37:42 10K.