Britain’s “Hardest Geezer” Aims to Run the Entire Length of Africa Non-Stop


It is always interesting to learn about the various running goals that different runners set. 

Some goals are rather predictable—breaking a certain time in the 5k or another distance, finishing your first marathon, placing in your age group in a big race.

Then, there are somewhat popular but more niche running goals like becoming a six-star finisher in the Abbott World Marathon Majors a running a marathon in every state in the USA.

Runner Russell Cook has an even more unique and ambitious running goal.

This 26-year-old British runner is planning to run the entire length of Africa—covering more than 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles) while passing through 16 African countries—from the tip of South Africa to the northern coast of Tunisia.

What’s even more impressive is that Cook plans to embark on this journey to run the length of Africa without taking a single rest day. 

With such a grueling itinerary planned to achieve this running goal, it’s probably not surprising that Russell Cook is known in his home country of England as Worthing’s “Hardest Geezer.”

Cook earned the “Hardest Geezer” moniker by being notorious for tackling extreme endurance challenges with gusto. 

For example, in 2019, Russell Cook ran from Asia to London, covering the distance of 71 marathons in 66 days.

In 2020, he ran an entire 26.2-mile marathon while dragging a Suzuki Alto behind him.

Britain’s Hardest Geezer only started running about five years ago, at age 21.

In an interview with The Glasgow Standard, Cook said he was compelled to take up running “out of an insecurity about how I looked and felt in myself,” a relatable motivation for many runners beginning their fitness journey.

But, since then, he’s certainly dove in with both feet, planning and taking on legendary running feats.

His current goal to run the entire length of Africa is a mission that’s two years in the making, as such a journey requires a tremendous amount of planning and training.

The Hardest Geezer is already underway and is currently about two weeks into his journey and over 350 miles from his starting location.

He plans to run at least a full marathon distance (26.2 miles) every single day from now until Christmas 2023 to meet his goal.

This impressive feat will see Cook running through South Africa, Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Algeria, and finishing in the country of Tunisia.

Not only will this endurance run encompass an impressive 16,000 kilometers, but it also will see the “Hardest Geezer” covering a range of challenging topography and climates, such as the Congo rainforest during its rainy season and an epic 4,000 miles through the arid and unforgiving Sahara Desert. 

Plus, there will be areas along the running course of civil unrest and geopolitical issues where Cook will have to be careful of his surroundings.

Fortunately, Cook will have the support of two friends who will be accompanying him in a van and who also plan to film the experience to document this next impressive notch in the Hardest Geezer’s running belt.

Russell Cook believes this will be a record since it appears no one has attempted such a tremendous multi-nation trek up the entire length of Africa.

His mission also has a charitable slant, as he is raising money for both The Running Charity, which helps people without homes, and WaterAid, which provides clean water and sanitation all around the world in areas of need.

You can watch Russell Cook talk about his goal to run the entire length of Africa, and the two years it took to plan and get ready for this venture in this video.

You can also follow along with Russell Cook’s run through Africa on his Instagram here.

For tips on setting your own running goals, check out our article on goal setting here.

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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