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Hard Geezer, Russ Cook, Runs Full Length of Africa to Raise Money for Charity

Russ Cook, nicknamed Hard Geezer, successfully ran the full length of Africa after 352 days.He has gone through a robbery and health problems but was able to complete his mission.

Russ Cook running in ran
On his journey, Cook went through weather conditions to complete the run. (Image: Instagram/Russ Cook)

Russ Cook, nicknamed Hard Geezer, successfully ran the full length of Africa after 352 days. His finish line was in Tunisia, North Africa.

Before running to South Africa, Cook ran 1,860 miles from Istanbul to Worthing in 68 days. The 27-year-old from Worthing, West Sussex has struggled in the past with mental health, gambling and drinking.

Cook crossed the finish line at 4:40 BST in Ras Angela, Tunisia where he was greeted by a crowd of supporters yelling out “geezer”.

After he crossed the finish line, he went to Instagram to celebrate his success with the caption, “Mission complete”.

Cook completed the equivalent of 388 marathons in 240 days with no rest.

After Cook left home in February 2023, he made a plan to run from Tunisia to South Africa.

His Journey to South Africa

His last-minute decision started on foot from Cape Agulhas, South Africa on April 22.This journey took him through cities, rainforests, mountains, and the Sahara Desert.

Things didn’t go exactly as Cook planned, he had to go through a robbery, medical problems and visa problems.

On day 45, Cook had troubles with his stomach which led him to go to the doctor to get checked out. While he was at the doctor, they discovered blood and protein in his urine which resulted in his first rest day.

When he suffered back pain after 200 days, Cook was forced to reduce his mileage at the request of a doctor in Nigeria. This caused him to miss days 205 and 206.

The armed robbery didn’t happen till 50 days after going through South Africa and Namibia. On June 24, Cook and his support team had cameras, phones, cash, and visas stolen in Angola.

When Cook tried to cross from Mauritania to Algeria, he couldn’t get in because of the lack of an Algerian visa on day 278.

After not getting into Algeria, Cook went to X to express his experience which received views from over 11 million people.

The attention of the post reached the UK’s Algerian embassy which led to Cook getting a courtesy visa on the spot.

“I saw that towards the end of his run, Russ wasn’t making headway toward getting visas into Algeria. A couple of social media posts later, some calls were made to the right people, and the ginger bearded man and his crew are giving access into Algeria! It’s incredible what a little advocacy can achieve,” Will Baldwin, the professional running coach said.

The only thing that stood in Cook’s way of the finish line was the Sahara Desert.

The Finish Line

There was no signal, tarmac roads, or signs of civilization. Cook has set a date of when he would like to finish the run which was on April 7.

When going through the Sahara Desert, Cook decided to run throughout the night to avoid the intense heat and sandstorms. He sped up to make up for lost time.

Cook woke up on Sunday at 10 am to complete his run. He was joined by supporters from around the world for the final marathon.

After he completed the run, Cook celebrated with a party performance by punk band Soft Play, formerly known as Slaves, at a hotel in Bizerte. Since the beginning of the run Cook has been craving one thing, a strawberry daiquiri.

He ran through 16 countries raising over $1,058,793.06 for two charities and is still growing to this day.

The Charities

Project Africa’s charities are The Running Charity and SandBlast. The journey was more than 9,940 miles.

The Running Charity uses the power of running to help homeless people and people who struggle with managing complex needs.

Sandblast provides educational events about the Saharawi people and culture through the arts in the UK. They also help with creative and skill development projects in Saharawi refugee camps to promote talent, knowledge, self-reliance, and support links.

After the run, Cook claimed to be the first person to run the length of the African continent.

The World Runners Association (WRA) Claims

The World Runners Association claimed that one of their founders deserved the claim of being first. The association has 7 members.

The group has claimed that Danish athlete Jesper Olsen achieved the feat in 2010. He ran 7,949 miles from Taba in Egypt to The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. This took 434 days.

“Someone potentially completed the run before Russ or faster than him. Russ himself said after he finished that lots of people have done big runs, and they all deserve respect,” Will Baldwin, the professional running coach said.

The WRA has said that the length of Africa is calculated at 4,971 miles.

Cook’s journey was 2,113 miles longer than Olsen’s but even if that is true the group is determined to prove that Olsen was first.

Written By

I am currently at UNCP in North Carolina working of my mass communication with a concentration in journalism degree. I am 21 years old. I am a big fan of movies and Tv series that i still buy DVDs even though I have apps like Netflix and Max.

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