Endurance Runner Completes Charity Run Across Africa

Posted by on May 2, 2024 in Stuff You Should Know, Top Stories
Family of Lions in Kruger National Park in South Africa
A group of African lions.

Russ Cook, a 27-year-old endurance runner, was unhappy and needed a project to help others and improve his outlook.  Russ decided to run the length of Africa. His adventure began on April 22, 2023, at the southern tip of South Africa. He took a western route, finishing at the northern part of Africa in Tunisia. His course covered almost 10,000 miles, taking him through 16 countries in 352 days. That works out to running more than one marathon daily for almost a year! 

Raising Money for Charity 

Cook decided to promote the run as a fundraising activity benefiting two charities. The Running Charity is a United Kingdom (UK) charity that promotes running for physical and social development. The charity also helps combat homelessness.  

Sandblast is a UK charity with the goal of raising awareness of the indigenous Saharawis of Western Sahara. Much of the organization’s work takes place in Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria. Cook documented his pursuit, calling it Project Africa, on social media. His video updates attracted worldwide attention. He exceeded his fundraising goal of £1 million. (In 2024, one million pounds equaled approximately 1.25 million US dollars.) 

Challenges He Faced 

Cook endured many physical challenges that other distance runners face. He required medical attention, and physical strain forced him to take a few days off. He went through thirty pairs of shoes. He avoided the worst of the Sahara Desert heat by running at night.  

Other obstacles were more unique. He got lost running through the rainforest. He was robbed at gunpoint while running through Angola. He had a difficult time getting permission to pass through Algeria toward the end of his continental route.  

Experience with Extreme Challenges 

Cook has some experience at taking on endurance challenges. He had previously run from Istanbul, Turkey, to London, England, in 68 days. And in 2020, he broke the world record for running a marathon… while pulling a car! He did it in just under ten hours. 

As Cook approached the last leg of his adventure in Ras Angela, Tunisia, a crowd of his supporters from all over the world joined him. After almost a year of running, he arrived at his destination on April 7, 2024. 

What Do You Think? What do you think would be some of the challenges of attempting such an extreme adventure?