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Russ Cook, Britain's "Hardest Geezer," runs length of Africa in 10,000-mile epic quest for charity

"Hardest Geezer" runs across Africa for charity
U.K.'s "Hardest Geezer" runs length of Africa for charity 01:27

London — A British man has taken the concept of running for charity to a whole new level.  Russ Cook, 27, completed a year-long quest Sunday to run the length of Africa. 

After running through 16 countries in 352 days, true grit and perseverance fueled Cook over the finish line in Tunisia on Sunday. The Englishman — who calls himself the "Hardest Geezer" — ran about 10,000 miles in total, from the southern to the northern coasts of the continent, braving thieves, kidnappers and the elements as he traversed jungles, deserts and everything in between.

Cook faced an armed robbery in Angola, where bandits stole his and his team's money, passports and equipment at gunpoint. He was nearly stopped in his tracks by the lack of a visa to enter Algeria, but diplomats at the country's embassy in London managed to secure the necessary paperwork in time.

British runner Russ Cook (C) is joined by supporters on the final leg of his 10,000 mile challenge to run across the African continent, from South Africa's Cape Agulhas in the south to Tunisia's Cape Angela in the north, to raise money for charity, on the last day of his run near Cape Angela, northeast of Tunis, Tunisia, April 7, 2024. FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty

The most frightening part of the trip, however, was being kidnapped briefly.

"Scariest moment was in the Congo, when I was on the back of a motorbike, thinking I was about to die," he said in a social media post after crossing the finish line. "Getting driven into the jungle, yeah — that was pretty nuts."

The Brit documented his dangerous and draining feat of endurance via his Instagram feed, where he tried to convey the rigors of running across the vast continent.

"Getting hit with another sandstorm this morning — sucking oxygen, chewing sand for breakfast," he said in one post. "They're tryin' to get me gone but they just can't."

Cook used his social media posts to invite people from across the world to join him on his journey, and American Blake Warren told CBS News he was lying on his couch one Sunday afternoon when he came across a post and then made a snap decision.

"I saw it and he said everybody can come. I literally got on Skyscanner, I looked for a ticket and, 20 minutes later, I bought the ticket and here I am," he said, speaking to CBS News from Tunisia. 

"I just couldn't miss a crazy historic opportunity like this," Warren said after taking part in the last leg of Cook's epic run.

The Englishman has raised almost $1 million for homeless young people and clean water for Africa — as well as a possible place in the record books. 

But while Cook claims to be the first person to ever run the entire length of the African continent, the World Runners Association insists that one of its founders did it first in 2010. Cook argues that his trek was longer.

He ended his run by taking a dip in the Mediterranean - and downing a strawberry daiquiri to mark his sweet success.

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