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Mission complete: ‘Hardest Geezer’ Russ Cook runs the entire length of Africa

Jonathan Turner
News Director
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Russ Cook – aka the ‘Hardest Geezer’ – has become the first person to run the full length of Africa, from south to north.

The 27-year-old from Worthing in the UK has overcome some huge obstacles which extended the epic challenge to what was a final tally of over 16,000 kilometres – or 19 million steps – over 352 days through 16 different countries.

He has so far raised over £600,000 for The Running Charity – which supports young people who are homeless – and Sandblast, a charity providing educational events about Saharawi people. You can donate to the Hardest Geezer’s fundraiser HERE.

That figure has flown up by over £50,000 in the last 24 hours, with the initial overall target set at £1million.

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Power of social media

Cook and his support team had originally planned to begin the challenge at the northernmost point of Africa, Ras Ben Sakka, the tip of Cape Angela in Tunisia, and finish at the southernmost point at Cape L’Agulhas in Western Cape, South Africa.

But initial issues obtaining a visa for Algeria – which would resurface later – meant the route was reversed, instead beginning in South Africa on 22 April, 2023.

He has since run through rainforests, across mountain ranges and the Sahara Desert. He’s had to tackle extreme temperatures, ranging from searing heat to hailstorms. And he was constantly blasted by sandstorms in the desert, all of which saw him switch to running through the night rather than the heat of the day.

Health scares, back pain and even an armed robbery in Angola last June were all overcome but even when things appeared back on course, there was a real doubt Cook would be able to complete the journey if he wasn’t granted the “multi-entry visa” that he required to cross Algeria and then head into Mauritania at the start of this year.

The power of social media – and political pressure – helped him clear that hurdle, with even Elon Musk commenting: “This kind of interaction is what makes 𝕏 special.”

Russ Cook, known as the 'Hardest Geezer', on his run across Africa
[Photo credit: @hardestgeezer]
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Late curve ball

And then just days before the finish what appeared to be a press release from the ‘World Runners Association’ seemed to throw into doubt the claim that he would be first person to “run the length of Africa”.

Cook’s mission has always stated the “full length of Africa” and his route takes in the most southerly and northerly tips, different to Denmark’s Jesper Olsen in 2010 who as part of a longer ‘World Run’ went from Taba in Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, a route of just under 13,000 kilometres.

But that social media flurry didn’t seem to diminish the celebrations after Cook reached his finish point of Cape Angela in Tunisia on Sunday afternoon.

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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