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Man finishes running length of Africa

A British man has become the first person to run the full length of Africa after he crossed the finish line in Tunisia.

Russ Cook, from Worthing, West Sussex spent 352 days taking on the mammoth challenge which has seen him cover more than 16,000km, take over 19 million steps and pass through 16 countries while raising money for charity.

Mr Cook, the self-proclaimed ‘Hardest Geezer’, arrived in Ras Angela, Tunisia’s most northerly point, at around 4.40pm and was greeted with shouts and cheers from those who had flown out to meet him.

Speaking to Sky News at the finish line, the 27-year-old endurance athlete said: “I’m pretty tired.”

Mr Cook set off from South Africa’s most southerly point on 22 April 2023, and faced visa complications, health scares and an armed robbery in his bid to become the first person to run the length of the continent.

Throughout the venture, called Project Africa, he has raised more than £550,000 (€641,000) for the Running Charity and Sandblast.

Russ Cook began the challenge on 22 April last year

For the final day of his 15,000km challenge, Mr Cook invited his supporters to take on the last marathon with him.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, where he has been sharing regular updates on his quest, he said: “Wanted to open up the last day of this project to anyone and everyone who has been watching and supporting.

“Come and run the last marathon, the last half, 10km, 5km, 1km. Whatever you fancy.”

Mr Cook also announced he will be throwing a finish line party to celebrate his achievements at a hotel in Bizerte, Tunisia.

The party is set to feature a performance by rock band Soft Play, formerly known as Slaves, comprising Laurie Vincent and Isaac Holman.

Mr Cook wrote on X: “Can’t quite believe it but we’ve managed to pull off Soft Play playing the finish line party in Tunisia.

“Get your daiquiris ready girls [and] boys this is gonna be mega.”

Before setting off on his challenge, Mr Cook told the PA news agency in February 2023: “I’m blessed with maybe 80 years on this planet and there is no way I’m going to peace out without throwing everything and the kitchen sink at life.

“I’m a totally normal bloke, so if I can do this, hopefully people can apply this to their own lives in whichever way they choose,” Mr Cook said.

He added: “For 99% of people, it’s not going to be running across Africa, but it might look like chasing their dreams a little bit more.”

Last Tuesday, Mr Cook said the challenge had been “the toughest in my life but an immense honour”.

He wrote on X: “We have met incredible people in every single country we’ve been to that have welcomed us with love & kindness. The human spirit is a beautiful thing.

“Very grateful for these experiences and would definitely encourage anyone out there to go get after that adventure, whatever it looks like for you.”

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