Hicks Repeats U23 Win and Leads Great Britain to Team Title

By Clay Shaw
Photography by Clay Shaw and Karen Mitchell

Turin, Italy, December 11, 2022, SPAR Euro Cross-Country Championships, (U23, 7.662KM) Piermonte La Mandria Park—Charles Hicks of Great Britain repeated as U23 champion winning in 23:40. Hicks, who was the NCAA XC champion in November running for Stanford University, had a few moments to catch his breath and greet teammate Zakaria Mahamed who took second in 23:48. Mahamed and Hicks were running together having separated from the rest of the field by the bell lap. Hicks took the lead for good on the final lap. Matthew Stonier of Great Britain finished eighth, giving Great Britain & Northern Ireland the team title in a competitive team race with France. Hicks said at the press conference at the spectacular La Venaria Reale, his thought on not moving to the senior race, was not only to win, but to lead his team to the team gold as well.

France was led by third place finisher Valentin Bresc who finished in 23:58. Etienne Daguinos was fourth in 24:04. Antoine Senard was seventh in 24:10. The top three men score in the team competition.

Efrem Gidey of Ireland was fifth in 24:05, and Ireland was third in the team competition.

Flash interviews courtesy of the event

Charles Hicks, GBR, Gold, 23:40

“It is unbelievable. It was something I was thinking about coming into this race, the NCAAs – the idea of pulling out both in the same year. It’s unreal! Last year’s winning was already an accomplishment; it was my wildest dreams, and if I could do it again that would have been the perfect season for me. Now that I have finally done it, it’s unreal. This course really suits me. I am someone who likes grinding it over the summer, and have been training since June, so the more time I have the better. I like putting in the work. It is a long season, mentally, but, physically, I feel great, and if I didn’t, I would have not been able to run like that. Zach is a phenomenal athlete, we always knew that. We were talking before the race, and he said he was feeling a lot more fit this year than in previous years. I knew I could trust his fitness there, and he could hold a push like that. The first couple of laps – knowing I am more of a 10K runner, and this is an 8K race – it is very difficult. I just wanted to make sure I am not making it slow. I wanted to give myself the chance of running well, but also give Great Britain the best chance of running well – because everyone in our team is so fit this year, so I felt that running hard was the best thing I could do for us. I think the first place where I felt confident running hills like that was at this meeting in Portugal, 3 years ago, where I ran the U20 race. That course is pretty much a hill. I took experiences like that to try and apply what my coach said, which was to push up the hill, as that would help to separate from the pack. I couldn’t separate from Zach, because he is one of the best athletes I have ever raced up against.”

Zakaria Mahamed, GBR, Silver, 23:48

“It was quite amazing the way I pushed that pace. You know, I had a great champion next to my shoulder, I just wanted to push the pace and see how far I could go – especially with two laps to go I felt good. I knew Charlie was sitting on my shoulder, but in that last 1K he just took it. It was a very tactical race. As soon as went through the castle and downhill, that’s where he’s taken it. Apart from that, it was just shoulder to shoulder, taking turns, it was quite close. I know the Irish were strong, and were going to challenge us. We just wanted to push the pace, and do the best we can, as to secure that gold. I think we’ve done it, so I am quite happy with that.”

Valentin Bresc, FRA, Bronze, 23:58

“I was not expecting this medal so I am surprised and also very glad about it. At the beginning, I was very far from the front, I think I was in the top 30. But than I started to come from behind and kept going. It was exactly what I wanted to do and it was amazing. My main target was really the top ten, not a medal. But I think that all my hard work, after all those years, it just had been rewarded. It was after the first lap when I realised that uphill was my strength. So I put all of my effort to do it well and slowly, meter by meter, I entered the top 20, top ten, and then, I was in the top 3. This time, in the last lap I realized that anything was possible and I just kept going. It is a big day for me.”

Top Finishers

  1. 23:40 Charles Hicks, Great Britain
  2. 23:48 Zakariya Mahamed, Great Britain
  3. 23:58 Valentin Bresc, France
  4. 24:04 Etienne Daguinos, France
  5. 24:05 Efrem Gidey, Ireland
  6. 24:06 Adisu Guadia, Israel
  7. 24:10 Antoine Senard, France
  8. 24:11 Matthew Stonier, Great Britain
  9. 24:13 Keelan Kilrehill, reland
  10. 24:14 Magnus Tuv Myhre, Norway
  11. 24:15 Rory Leonard, Great Britain
  12. 24:18 Derebe Ayele, Israel
  13. 24:19 Joseph Wigfield, Great Britain
  14. 24:22 Marco Fontana Granotto, Italy
  15. 24:22 Shay McEvoy, Ireland
  16. 24:33 Miguel Moreira, Portugal
  17. 24:43 Luc LeBaron, France
  18. 24:44 Adam Maiho, Spain
  19. 24:45 Andrii Atamaniuk, Ukraine
  20. 24:45 Tim Verbaandert, Netherlands
With the stunning view of the Alps from La Mandria Park, the U23 men’s race starts with Charles Hicks of GBR and Darragh McElhinney of IRL leading.
Charles Hicks and Zakariya Mahamed of Great Britain & Northern Ireland lead the U23 race. Darragh McElhinney of Ireland and Valentin Bresc of France form the 4-man lead pack.
Charles Hicks of GBR leads and begins to drop his competitors.
Magnus Tuv Myhre of Norway and Valentin Bresc of France chase the leaders. Bresc would earn the bronze and Myhre finished tenth.
Charles Hicks of Great Britain wins the U23 for the second straight year.
Zakariya Mahamed of Great Britain was second overall. Hicks, Mahamed, and Matthew Stonier led Great Britain and Northern Ireland to team gold.
Valentin Bresc of France sprints to the bronze podium spot.
Charles Hicks is all smiles after another U23 gold.
Andrii Atamaniuk of Ukraine gets crowd support as he races in the U23 event, in which he placed 19th overall.
Charles Hicks and Zakariya Mahamed of Great Britain & Northern Ireland lead the U23 race. Darragh McElhinney of Ireland and Valentin Bresc of France form the 4-man lead pack.
Ireland was third in the U23 race. Efrem Gidey, Darragh McElhinney, Thomas McStay, Jamie Battle, Keelan Kilrehill, and Shay McEvoy.
Israel team in the U23 finished fourth with Jonathan Carmin, Zemenu Muchie, Derebe Ayele, Assaf Harari, and Adisu Guadia.


Categories: Race Coverage

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