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Man running length of Africa set to cross finish line

A man who has been running the length of Africa in a mammoth challenge which has seen him take more than 19 million steps in 16 countries is set to cross the finish line in Tunisia today.

Russ Cook, from Worthing, West Sussex, has faced visa complications, health scares and an armed robbery in his bid to become the first person to run the length of the continent.

Mr Cook, the self-proclaimed ‘Hardest Geezer’, set off from South Africa’s most southerly point on 22 April 2023 and is set to finish at Tunisia’s most northerly point on 7 April, running the distance of around 376 marathons.

Throughout the venture, called Project Africa, the 27-year-old endurance athlete has raised more than £550,000 (€641,000) for the Running Charity and Sandblast.

For the final day of his 15,000km challenge, Mr Cook has 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.”

Russ Cook began the challenge on 22 April last year

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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