Russ Cook AKA the “Hardest Geezer” Finishes 10,130-Mile Run Across Africa

Russ Cook, better known as the Hardest Geezer, finishes his 10,130-mile run across Africa on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

By on April 7, 2024 | Comments

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, Russ Cook of the U.K,, better known as the Hardest Geezer, completed his Project Africa, a run from the southern end of the continent to its northernmost tip.

After 352 days of running, starting in Cape Agulhas, South Africa, and ending in Ras Angela, Tunisia, Cook completed the huge effort that has so far raised more than £613,000 ($775,000) for two charities, the Running Charity and the Sandblast Charity. The run took him over 16,300 kilometers (10,130 miles) and through 16 countries, following the continent’s western border before the final crossing of the Sahara Desert.

Russ Cook - Hardest Geezer - Project Africa - entering Algeria - feature photo

A screenshot from one of Russ Cook’s YouTube videos as he entered Algeria near the end of his Project Africa. All images are screenshots from Cook’s YouTube page.

With a minimal support crew of friends, a four-wheel drive camper truck, and a camper van, this was a far cry from a huge production. Along the way, Cook and his team have documented his journey on various social media channels, including a popular YouTube series. He’s developed a loyal following for his nearly year-long journey by showcasing the journey’s highs and being honest about all the difficulties. His giant red beard and outgoing persona have made for fun videos that showed the logistics of making such a huge undertaking happen.

As expected, it didn’t all go as planned.

To start with, he’d planned to do the run in reverse, but he ended up heading north instead of south. And once out on the road, the plan had plenty of unexpected hiccups. At one point in time, he was robbed at gunpoint but managed to talk himself to safety. He seems to embrace running through blowing sand first in a pair of swim goggles, and then in a set of upgraded lab goggles. Back issues sent him to the doctor for x-rays, and food poisoning had him vomiting on the side of the road.

Russ Cook - Hardest Geezer - Project Africa - sandstorm

When the sand and wind got bad, lab goggles were the protective clothing item of choice.

He crossed the two biggest deserts in Africa, first the Namib and then the Sahara. Between the endless stretches of desert, he traversed the Congolian rainforest, the second-largest rainforest in the world. And with all these landscapes came the animals that Africa is famous for. Forget the lions and elephants, though, the problems associated with getting visas and permissions for various countries appear to have been among the biggest challenges.

But perseverance has paid off, and Cook has finished.

Russ Cook - Hardest Geezer - Project Africa - map of route

Russ Cook’s Project Africa route and progress with only a few days to go.

Cook invited anyone to join the run for the final day of running. Meeting at 10 a.m. local time on Sunday, April 7, he left the Shell gas station in Ghezala, Tunisia, and ran until he hit the Mediterranean Sea. He had previously announced plans for a proper finish-line celebration with a band and free accommodations for people who come out to finish his journey in style.

Big running feats are nothing new for Cook, and he’s completed several other massive run projects. In 2019, he ran from Istanbul, Turkey, to London, England, in 66 days, traversing 11 countries on the way. Despite his own adventurous spirit, he’s also ever encouraging others to chase their dreams and get out on their own big adventures.


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Call for Comments

  • Did you follow along with the Hardest Geezer’s Project Africa run?
  • Have you ever been tempted to run across a continent?
Russ Cook - Hardest Geezer - Project Africa - running in Algeria

Russ Cook running in Algeria with only one more country to enter before the finish.

Eszter Horanyi

Eszter Horanyi identifies as a Runner Under Duress, in that she’ll run if it gets her deep into the mountains or canyons faster than walking would, but she’ll most likely complain about it. A retired long-distance bike racer, she gave ultra foot racing a go and finished the Ouray 100 in 2017, but ultimately decided that she prefers a slower pace of life of taking photos during long days in the mountains and smelling the flowers while being outside for as many hours of the day as possible. Eszter will take any opportunity to go adventuring in the mountains or desert by foot, bike, or boat, and has lived the digital nomad lifestyle throughout the west for the past seven years.