First to cross Africa from top to bottom: Russ Cook. GETTY IMAGES

The Briton reached Cape Angela in Tunisia on Sunday after completing a 16,000-kilometre run in support of the indigenous Saharawi people of Western Sahara. Cook set off from South Africa on 22 April 2022. He has raised £550,000 (€640,000).

Russ Cook completed a colossal mission across Africa on Sunday, overcoming health issues, visa problems and an armed robbery. From the southernmost point of South Africa to the northernmost point of the African continent, Cape Angela in Tunisia, the Briton has completed a journey of more than 16,000km (9,900 miles). He set off on 22 April 2022. Just over two years later, he has done it.

The epic endeavour has seen him live up to his nickname of "Hardest Geezer" by becoming, barring any surprises, the first person to cross the entire continent. When he crossed the finish line in Tunisia, the Briton said he had taken more than 19 million steps in 16 countries, the equivalent of running 385 marathons in 351 days.

Cook's journey has taken him across mountains, tropical forests and deserts, including the imposing Sahara Desert. His efforts have raised more than £550,000 (€640,000) for Running Charity and Sandblast, which raises awareness of the indigenous Sahrawi people of Western Sahara. 

Russ Cook didn't run the last few kilometres alone. GETTY IMAGES
Russ Cook didn't run the last few kilometres alone. GETTY IMAGES

There has been a charitable element to his mission. On the final leg, the endurance athlete from Worthing, a town in the south of England, was joined by his supporters. "I wanted to open up the last day of this project to everyone who has followed and supported me. Come and run the last marathon, the last half, 10 kilometres, five kilometres, one kilometre. Whatever you want," he said on X.

Many joined him. They shared the last efforts of this real adventure that he has been living for the last two years. The end of the challenge was to be celebrated with a party in a hotel in Bizerte, the northernmost town in Africa. Soft Play, formerly known as Slaves, were to perform at the party on the final day.

"I can't believe it, but we've managed to get Soft Play to the finish line party in Tunisia," he said. "Get your daiquiris ready boys and girls, this is going to be mega," he added. Cook joked durind the trip that he was in the mood for a strawberry daiquiri. It was one of the jokes he allowed himself during his long journey when asked about the superhuman adventure that has now come to an end.

It wasn't just the race that challenged the extreme runner. There were all kinds of problems and setbacks as he crossed the African continent. The fear was real. In Angola, he and his team were robbed at gunpoint. Cook's difficulties in obtaining a visa for Algeria almost derailed the project. Without money, exhausted and scared, there were moments when his challenge could have ended.

In the Sahara, he ran at night to avoid the scorching heat and blazing sun. In Nigeria, doctors advised him to reduce his daily mileage because of the pain he was experiencing. Cook kept going. He didn't stop.

Russ Cook has been on the run across Africa for more than two years. GETTY IMAGES
Russ Cook has been on the run across Africa for more than two years. GETTY IMAGES

Before setting off last year, he said his way of facing life was to throw "everything and the kitchen sink" at it, according to AFP.  "I'm just a normal guy, so if I can do this, I hope people can apply it to their own lives however they want," he said.

For 99 per cent of people, it won't be crossing Africa, but it might inspire them to chase their dreams a little harder," he added. Last week he described the past year as "the hardest of my life, but an immense honour. We've met incredible people in every country we've been to who have welcomed us with love and kindness. The human spirit is a beautiful thing," he concluded.