16 000km: “Hardest Geezer” Runs Complete Length of Africa

On Sunday, the British endurance runner finished his goal of running the continent’s entire length, covering more than 16, 000 kilometres.


Briton Russ Cook finished what he started nearly a year ago. The 27-year-old from Worthing, England, ran the entire length of Africa in 352 days. He ran over 16 000 kilometres through 16 countries — raising more than R19-million (and counting) for The Running Charity, which supports young people experiencing homelessness, and Sandblast, an org supporting Sahrawi refugees, along the way.

The long journey on foot began at South Africa’s southernmost point on April 22, 2023, and Cook called it a day upon reaching Tunisia’s northernmost point. His original plan was to finish 360 marathons in 240 days, but throughout the endurance feat, he was waylaid by visa complications in Algeria that nearly derailed the entire venture, experienced health scares and injuries, geopolitical issues, and was robbed at gunpoint in Angola.

Nicknamed the “Hardest Geezer,” and known for chewing off headline-grabbing endurance challenges like running 71 marathons in 66 days from Asia to London or that time he ran a seafront marathon while dragging a Suzuki Alto behind him, Cook really lived up to his name with Project Africa, donning swim goggles to run through a sandstorm, buoying himself with unrelenting optimism, and letting his red beard and locks grow wildly as he faced kilometre after kilometre of sun and exposure.

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To commemorate the completion of his goal, Cook threw a finish line party at a hotel in Bizerte, Tunisia, complete with a set by the English punk rock duo Soft Play (formerly known as Slaves).

In an Instagram post five days before the end, he reflected on the experience, writing, “Very grateful for these experiences and would definitely encourage anyone out there to go get after that adventure, whatever it looks like for you.”

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