Brit conquers Africa on foot

'Hardest geezer' runs Africa for charity

'The hardest geezer' pictured with seven days left to finish. Credit: hardestgeezer/X

A young British man has earned himself a place in the record books and an enviable moniker after running the length of Africa.

On Sunday, April 7, Russ Cook, also known as the ‘Hardest Geezer,’ finished a remarkable journey on foot across Africa when he finally arriving in Tunisia, having started from the southernmost point of South Africa 352 days earlier.

A journey of resilience

Embarking on the adventure which took in 16 countries, Cook’s initial plan faced early setbacks, including a change in route due to visa complications.

The 27-year-old from Worthing, West Sussex, set off from South Africa on April 22, 2023, determined to transform his struggles with mental health, gambling, and drinking into a force for good.

His trek led him through diverse terrains, including cities, rainforests, and deserts, overcoming challenges that would have put most people off.

Trials along the way

The journey was fraught with hurdles, from an armed robbery in Angola to health scares and intense physical strain. Cook faced everything from theft to medical advice to reduce his running due to severe back pain and health concerns.

Yet, his spirit remained unbroken. ‘I took a couple of days to get some scans. No bone damage so figured the only option left was to stop mincing about like a little weasel, get the strongest painkillers available and zombie stomp road again,’ he said, living up to his nickname,

Overcoming the odds

Visa issues threatened to end his quest prematurely, but Cook’s appeal on social media, viewed by 11 million people, including recognition from influential figures, secured him the necessary documentation to continue.

His final challenge was the daunting Sahara Desert, which he tackled by increasing his mileage and opting to run through the night to avoid the harsh daytime conditions.

A victorious finish

As Cook neared the end of his adventures he posted his thoughts on Twitter/X: ‘The last 347 days running through Africa have no doubt been the toughest of my life, but such 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 concluded his message with heartfelt gratitude: ‘Thank you to the people of Africa for being such an amazing part of this journey.’

The finale saw Cook joined by global supporters for the last leg of his marathon, culminating in celebrations at a hotel in Bizerte, where he was finally able to indulge in a long-craved strawberry daiquiri.

Raising over £700,000 for charity, Cook’s achievement is a testament to the human spirit’s capacity to overcome adversity.

‘Mission completed,’ he announced, marking the end of an extraordinary journey that began with a desire to make a difference and concluded with a triumphant entry into the record books.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.