After running almost 7,500 miles across Africa, this man’s epic odyssey hangs in the balance

CNNA mission to become the first person to run the length of Africa appears to be in some jeopardy due to visa issues.

Over the last nine months, Russ Cook has run almost 7,500 miles across 13 different countries and is currently in Senegal with his small support crew.

But despite all his efforts, which have involved running more than a marathon a day on average, Cook took to social media Tuesday to announce that his epic journey was facing a diplomatic impasse.

Cook had planned to finish his odyssey at the most northerly tip of Africa in Tunisia, but must access Algeria through the Mauritania border first. However, his team has so far been unable to acquire visas for Algeria.

The border between the two countries has a complicated history, with Jihadist groups previously known to operate in the porous regions between Mauritania and Algeria.

“If we don’t get them, then it’s game over for Project Africa,” Cook said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“This is the only option we have left so, Algeria, if you’re listening, please reach out to me.”

The Briton, nicked the “Hardest Geezer,” has amassed a huge social media following since starting his run and has raised over $170,000 for charity.

In a video posted alongside his message, the 26-year-old thanked fans for their support but urged them to raise awareness about the visa issue.

Cook’s video has been shared 11 million times, catching the attention of the British government.

Alexander Stafford, UK’s Chair of the Parliamentary Group for Algeria, wrote an open letter to the Algerian Ambassador to the UK requesting Cook be granted a visa.


The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) also told CNN that it had received a lot of messages regarding Cook’s situation, but said the visa decision rests with the country in question.

“We commend the efforts of Russ Cook in aid of charity and his achievements so far,” a FCDO spokesperson said, before laying out the dangers involved with traveling between Mauritania and Algeria.

“We have provided him with our travel advice, which clearly sets out the risks involved travelling through these dangerous areas, to where we clearly advise against all travel.

“Our travel advice is just that, advice, and it is up to individuals to decide whether to follow it.”

CNN has reached out to the Algerian Presidency office for comment.

‘Absolutely incredible’

Speaking to CNN last year, Cook explained the motivations for the extreme challenge.

“From where I’ve come from to have this opportunity is absolutely incredible. What’s a few little sore bits in the legs? It’s all minor at the end of the day,” he said.

“When I’m an old man, sitting in my rocking chair, with 18 grandchildren running around, I’ll have a few stories to knock back. So that will be good.”

Should he and his team be granted the appropriate documents, he has the small matter of crossing the Sahara Desert before putting a lid on his incredible journey.

Given all the challenges he faced so far, including being robbed at gunpoint and getting lost in the rainforest, you wouldn’t bet against him.