Hicks at the 1904 Summer Olympics
|Representing the United States|
|1904 St. Louis||Marathon|
Hicks, a brass worker from Cambridge, Massachusetts, was born in England. He was the winner of a remarkable marathon race at the 1904 Summer Olympics, held as part of the World Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.
Conditions were bad, the course being a dirt track, with large clouds of dust produced by the accompanying vehicles. Hicks was not the first to cross the finish line, trailing Fred Lorz. However, Lorz had abandoned the race after 9 miles. After covering much of the course by car, he re-entered the race 5 miles before the finish. This was discovered by the officials, who disqualified Lorz, who claimed it had been a joke.
Had the race been run under current rules, Hicks would also have been disqualified for using strychnine: his assistants had given him a dose of 1/60 of a grain (roughly 1 mg) of strychnine and some brandy because he was flagging badly during the race; the first dose of strychnine did not revive him for long, so he was given another. As a result, he collapsed after crossing the finishing line. Another dose might have been fatal. Strychnine is now forbidden for athletes.
Hicks finished in sixth place at the Boston Marathon in both 1901 and 1902. In the Fall of the latter year he relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota for work, and while there became captain of the Minneapolis YMCA cross-country team that won the state championship. Hicks returned to Boston in the spring of 1904 and finished second in the Boston Marathon that year. He dropped out during the following year's race; the year after, he began walking at Wellesley, and walked all the way to the finish. However, on June 30, 1906, he finished three minutes ahead of Alexander Thibeau to win a marathon at an Amateur Athletic Union meet in Chicago (3:02). The next year he finished thirteenth at the Boston Marathon and sixth at the Chicago Marathon conducted by the Illinois Athletic Club. He finished sixteenth at the same race in the following year, by which time he had returned to Minneapolis. On January 16, 1909 he was leading a marathon at Chicago under terrible weather conditions for more than eight miles before being forced to retire with a stitch; the race was won by Sidney Hatch.
In later years, he worked on mining claims at Ingolf, Ontario, and lived at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where his two brothers had settled. He became a naturalized Canadian, and died at Winnipeg in 1952 at the age of seventy-six.