Thomas HICKS

The 1904 St. Louis marathon remains one of the most extreme events in the history of the Olympic Games. The American Hicks won it in an unusual way.

Saint-Louis 1904 - marathon Hommes - Thomas HICKS (USA) 1e. (1904) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

No stranger to marathon running

Born in 1876, Thomas HICKS worked as a labourer in Cambridge. He was a regular at the Boston marathons, having finished sixth in 1900 and 1901, and second in 1904. A few months later, he won the Olympic marathon at St. Louis 1904.

Saint-Louis 1904 - Le départ du marathon (1904) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

St. Louis 1904

Two Americans, Thomas HICKS (No. 20) and Frederick LORZ (No. 31), were at the starting line of the second Olympic marathon on 30 August at Francis Field in St. Louis. The start of a race that proved to be full of cheating, over a challenging and dusty course.

Saint-Louis 1904 - Thomas HICKS (USA), 1e, soutenu par des co-équipiers. (1904) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

An explosive mix!

Seven kilometres from the finish, a dehydrated Thomas HICKS was served a cocktail of strychnine and egg whites. Then, just before the finish line, he was given a second dose, which he downed with a shot of cognac. He staggered across the finish line. Today he would have been disqualified for doping.

Saint-Louis 1904 - Thomas HICKS (USA) 1e. (1904) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

After he finished the race, HICKS required the assistance of four doctors to feel well enough to leave the field. 
However, his words would resonate long after: "Never in my life have I run such a tough course. The terrible hills simply tear a man to pieces."

Saint-Louis 1904 -Thomas HICKS (USA), champion olympique du marathon (1904) by Comité International Olympique (CIO)The Olympic Museum

Thomas HICKS

Hicks completed the race in 3 hours, 28 minutes and 53 seconds, setting the record for the longest time ever recorded by a winner of an Olympic marathon!

Undeterred, he continued running for a few more years and won the Chicago Marathon in 1906, with a time of 3 hours 2 minutes.

He proudly poses here with his trophies.

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