‘Get the man a Greggs for crying out loud!’ The world reacts to the Hardest Geezer’s epic run across Africa

More than 16,000km and 352 days later, Russ Cook has completed his mission to cover the whole length of Africa on foot – and it’s not just the running community that’s going wild.



Nicknamed the ‘Hardest Geezer’, endurance athlete Russ Cook has conquered his mind-boggling goal to run the entire length of the African continent.

The 27-year-old Brit is believed to be the first person to complete a journey on foot from South Africa’s southernmost tip, Cape Agulhas, to Tunisia’s most northerly point, Ras Angela, hugging Africa’s western nations along the way. Having commenced his mission in South Africa on 22 April 2023, in less than a year Cook has crossed 16 countries and covered more than 9,940 miles (16,000km), which equates to 386 marathons and around 19.1 million steps.

Cook, who hails from Worthing, West Sussex, broke the tape at his own, personal finish line in Tunisia on Sunday [9 April 2024]. He was surrounded by some of the countless supporters who had been cheering him on from afar throughout his colossal voyage.

On finishing his quest, known as Project Africa, Cook took a dip in the sea and planned to unwind with a party and long-craved strawberry daiquiri.


The celebrations are certainly well deserved. In tandem with his incredible running efforts, Cook has raised well over £800,000 ($1.5M) for The Running Charity, which uses the power of running to help young people who are experiencing homelessness, and Sandblast, which raises awareness of the Saharawi people.

What’s more, Cook has amassed millions of followers, views, likes and shares on social media, with runners and non-runners alike lauding and becoming invested in his mammoth efforts in Africa, which Cook had been logging almost daily.

Stratospheric support

Since Sunday, everyday social media users to globally known organisations and celebrities have commended Cook’s achievement, which has also filled the front pages of several major news publications that sit beyond the running sphere. As such, Cook did not ‘just’ do a very, very long run – he also demonstrated what can be accomplished with outstanding levels of commitment, stamina, patience and good humour.


In fact, you could say that Cook’s positivity and ability to make a quip in even the most challenging of circumstances was what made his mission so compelling and endearing.

On day 337 of Project Africa, for instance, little over a fortnight before his completion date, Cook was running through a sandstorm, with swimming goggles on to keep the swirling grit out of his eyes. While most people wouldn’t ever consider being in such conditions, let alone running in them, Cook cracked on in his usual determined fashion.


‘Day 337 of running the entire length of Africa,’ he said. ‘Getting hit with another sandstorm this morning. Sucking oxygen, chewing sand for breakfast. They’re trying to get me gone, but they just can’t. I’m too damn ferocious!’

‘Different level 😆🙌🏼🔥,’ commented one impressed follower on Instagram, while another said they ‘Wouldn’t be surprised if he carried on straight through the Mediterranean Sea all the way home.’

‘Get this man in the next Dune movie,’ commented another.

And with just three days to go, Cook’s call for freshly baked goods after his finish was very well received.


‘Day 349 of running the entire length of Africa,’ said Cook. ‘Three days to go. Body is really starting to break down. Everything hurts. Legs feel like they’re about to fall off. So I really need someone to book me an emergency appointment next week when I’m back in the UK at the nearest bakery. Nice one, guys. Really appreciate it.’

Individual followers and bakeries alike responded to the request with compassion and respect. ‘Pop in for a cinnamon bun anytime!’ wrote popular chain GAIL’s Bakery. ‘Get the man a Greggs for crying out loud!’ commented another supporter.

But baked goods weren’t enough for one user. ‘GET THIS GEEZER KNIGHTED WHEN HE’S BACK,’ they implored.

The Hardest Geezer and the hardest visa

They have a point. Project Africa did not just entail high mileage – it also involved a high level of risk and uncertainty.

Perhaps one of Cook’s toughest obstacles was his nearly-denied entry to Algeria, a country in northwest Africa that was a necessary port of passage if he was to complete the full journey from South Africa to Tunisia. On day 278 of his audacious running challenge, Cook took to social media to ask his followers to rally enough noise to help him and his team secure visas to cross into Algeria – and to his immense relief and gratitude, it worked.

‘Boys and girls, we did it. We’re going to Algeria, and the power of social media made it happen,’ said Cook. ‘Daiquiris on the beach in sight.’

On X, even Elon Musk – owner of the social media platform – celebrated the outcome for Cook and the many well-meaning communications that brought it about.

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Visa scares aside, Cook also had to contend with all kinds of intense terrains on his journey up Africa, from rainforests, to mountains, to deserts. He overcame a string of perilous incidents, too, including being robbed at gunpoint in Angola and reportedly kidnapped by a gang of armed men in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also experienced health issues, injuries and even had his passport stolen, and yet his steely ambition and resolve (and distinctive red beard) remained. Cook is anything but a quitter, so he was never going to call a premature end to Project Africa.

You can celebrate and catch up on Cook’s running accomplishment on YouTubeXInstagram and Strava.

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