Mission accomplished. Russ Cook reached the northernmost point of Africa on Sunday. It's been almost a year since the 27-year-old English runner set off from the southern tip of the continent. Today, he can say that he is the first person in the world to have traveled the length and breadth of Africa (for several kilometers).

Members of his family and dozens of supporters gathered at Cap Angèle, a rocky promontory in Bizerte, northern Tunisia, to celebrate the final meters of the race for the Hardest Geezer, as he is called on Instagram where he recounts his exploit day after day.

Cook set out on April 22, 2023 from Cape Agulhas in South Africa, the southernmost point of the continent, and ran more than 16,000 kilometers across 16 countries in 352 days, the equivalent of 385 marathons. “I'm a little tired,” Cook said after a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean.

And it is a sporting feat, and not only that. The Briton hoped to complete the course in 240 days, running the equivalent of more than a marathon per day. A roadmap which, however, had to face more than one unforeseen event.

After crossing South Africa and Namibia in 50 days, he and his team had their money, passports, phones and cameras stolen during an armed robbery in Angola. In Nigeria, he was stopped by back pain. Almost within sight of the finish line, Cook was about to throw in the towel when he found himself without a visa to enter Algeria. The intervention of the Algerian embassy in London, after a warm appeal from the runner on social networks, resolved the problem and the athlete received the necessary documents to continue north.

Only once during his odyssey did Cook actually consider giving up, after being kidnapped in Congo by a gang armed with machetes: “The scariest moment was in Congo, when I was taken to the jungle on a motorbike, I thought I was going to die. It was pretty crazy,” the 27-year-old told reporters. “For probably about a minute I thought about giving up, but then I realized I couldn't.”

Russ Cook, who said running helped him cope with his mental health problems, ran for charity: this year he raised more than £690,000 (over €800,000) for Running Charity, which works with homeless young people, and for Sandblast, an association which helps displaced people in Western Sahara.

He now hopes his achievement will inspire others to become more active: “I'm a big supporter of sport in general, which does wonders to people's lives. It changed my life. »

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