‘Hardest Geezer’ makes history as first person to run full length of Africa

‘Hardest Geezer’ makes history as first person to run full length of Africa
Russ Cook has become the first person to run the full length of Africa (Russ Cook/PA)
PA Archive/PA Images - Russ Cook

A man from West Sussex has become the first person to run the full length of Africa after he crossed the finish line in Tunisia.

Russ Cook, from Worthing, spent 352 days taking on the mammoth challenge which has seen him cover more than 16,000km, take over 19 million steps and pass through 16 countries while raising money for charity.

Mr Cook, nicknamed Hardest Geezer, arrived in Ras Angela, Tunisia’s most northerly point, at around 4.40pm on Sunday and was greeted with shouts and cheers from those who had flown out to meet him.

Speaking to Sky News at the finish line, the 27-year-old endurance athlete said: “I’m pretty tired.”

Russ Cook running challengeRuss Cook crossed the finish line in Tunisia at around 4.40pm on Sunday (Russ Cook/PA)PA Archive/PA Images - Russ Cook

Mr Cook set off from South Africa’s most southerly point on April 22 2023, facing visa complications, health scares and an armed robbery in his bid to become the first person to run the length of the continent.

For the final day of his challenge, Mr Cook invited his supporters to take on the last marathon with him, with many flying out to Tunisia from the UK and beyond to run alongside him.

To celebrate his mammoth feat, Mr Cook will be throwing a finish line party at a hotel in Bizerte, Tunisia, featuring a performance from the British punk rock duo Soft Play, formerly known as Slaves.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, where he has been sharing regular updates on his quest, he said: “Can’t quite believe it but we’ve managed to pull off Soft Play playing the finish line party in Tunisia.

“Anyone who can get themselves there is welcome. Get your daiquiris ready girls and boys this is gonna be mega.”

Throughout the venture, called Project Africa, Mr Cook has raised more than £690,000 for two charities, the Running Charity and Sandblast, the latter of which is a UK-registered charity raising awareness of the indigenous Saharawi people of Western Sahara.

Last Tuesday, Mr Cook said on X that the challenge had “no doubt been the toughest of my life” but an “immense honour”.

“We have met incredible people in every single country we’ve been to that have welcomed us with love & kindness. The human spirit is a beautiful thing,” he wrote.

“Very grateful for these experiences and would definitely encourage anyone out there to go get after that adventure, whatever it looks like for you.

“Thank you to the people of Africa for being such an amazing part of this journey.”

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