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

Russ Cook (PA)
Russ Cook (PA)

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.”

Just before completing the challenge he posted on the X social media platform: "Can't believe it's nearly over. See you at the shell garage soon boys & girls."

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

Throughout the venture, called Project Africa, the 27-year-old endurance athlete has raised more than £550,000 for the Running Charity and Sandblast.

Russ Cook ran the entire length of Africa (PA Archive)
Russ Cook ran the entire length of Africa (PA Archive)

For the final day of his 15,000km challenge, Mr Cook invited his supporters to take on the last marathon with him.

One told Sky News: “The realisation that my wife got pregnant, had a baby and we now have a two month old in the time he's done this really put it into perspective.

“I did 22km and I had to pull the pin. He did 16,000km. It's left me speechless."

Mr Cook also announced he will be throwing a finish line party to celebrate his achievements at a hotel in Bizerte, Tunisia.

The party is set to feature a performance by rock band Soft Play, formerly known as Slaves, comprising Laurie Vincent and Isaac Holman.

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.”