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Home / News / Hardest Geezer set to complete run along the length of Africa

Hardest Geezer set to complete run along the length of Africa

Ultramarathon legend and Sussex’s finest Russ Cook is set to complete his 16,000km run across Africa. Simply incredible…

Russ Cook, aka the Hardest Geezer, is about to achieve what seemed the unthinkable and become the first person to run the entire length of Africa.

The 27-year-old from Worthing, West Sussex, set off from South Africa on 22 April 2023, the aim to complete the roughly 14,484km-run (9,000 miles) – or around 360 marathons – to Tunisia’s most northerly point in 240 days.

After complications with visas, health scares, geopolitical issues and an armed robbery, Cook (or Geezer) was forced to change the route and so extending the challenge.

Still, the running sensation persevered and is set to reach the Tunisian finish line later today.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday, Cook wrote: “16,250km. 351 days. 385 marathons. 16 countries. £574k raised for charity. We’ve come a long way. One last push tomorrow for the record books.”

For his final marathon, Cook has invited people to join him on the run. To celebrate, one of the Brit’s favourite bands, UK rock duo Soft Play, will play at the finish-line party.

The story so far

Cook’s incredible exploits have seen him run across 16 countries, taking on some of the most hostile environments on the planet, including rain forests and jungles. But the most ‘challenging’ episode of Cook’s record-breaking exploits came last year.

Cook spoke back in August 2023 of the day he thought he’d lose his life. “On day 102 I was separated from the boys and the support van after some impassable roads in the planned route.

“In an attempt to find the boys at a village on the plan B route, I stumbled into a rural settlement where the chief told me I must give him money. 

“I had none. So that went down well. Pretty soon I found myself surrounded by lots of game blokes with machetes. Was escorted out the village into the bush. Emptied my bag to show I had nothing but a half-eaten biscuit. Gave it to them and ran. 

“Spent the next few hours bushwhacking through overgrown jungle paths. Trying to stay off any tracks until I was far away.”

The situation worsened when Cook realised his support van couldn’t reach the road he was on, before two men pulled up on a motorbike.

“What happened next was a seven-hour motorbike ride deeper into the jungle. In my head I thought this was it. Me. The self-proclaimed hardest geezer. About to get held in a Congo gulag before being ripped apart limb by limb and eaten.”

Thankfully, Cook was freed and was relatively unscathed, going on to meet “incredible people in every single country we’ve been to”.

Prior to his Project Africa challenge, Russ was well known for becoming the first person to run from Asia to London in 2019.

For a good cause

Cook has been raising money for two charities:

  • The Running Charity – a charity that harnesses the power of running to help people experiencing homelessness or managing complex needs.
  • Sandblast – a charity providing educational events about Saharawi people and culture through the arts in the UK, and creative and skills development projects in the Saharawi refugee camps to promote talent, knowledge, self-reliance and support links.

You can donate to Cook’s cause here, and follow along with the final part of the journey by heading to his Instagram or X account.

Image credit: Gus van Veen

Profile image of James Witts James Witts Freelance sports writer and author


Former 220 Triathlon magazine editor James is a cycling and sports writer and editor who's been riding bikes impressively slowly since his first iridescent-blue Peugeot road bike back in the 80s. He's a regular contributor to a number of cycling and endurance-sports publications, plus he's authored four books: The Science of the Tour de France: Training secrets of the world’s best cyclists, Bike Book: Complete Bicycle Maintenance, Training Secrets of the World's Greatest Footballers: How Science is Transforming the Modern Game, and Riding With The Rocketmen: One Man's Journey on the Shoulders of Cycling Giants