hardest geezer

Cook’s claim to be the first man to run the length of Africa has been disputed. Image: @hardestgeezer/ X

‘Hardest Geezer’ is NOT the first man to run the length of Africa – World Runners Association

On Sunday a British ultra-runner completed the ‘first’ run along the entire length of Africa, but this claim has come into question.

hardest geezer

Cook’s claim to be the first man to run the length of Africa has been disputed. Image: @hardestgeezer/ X

Utra-runner Russ Cook, aka the “Hardest Geezer” finished his south-north run along the entire length of Africa after 350 days.

The Brit was aiming to become the first person to finish this epic journey, that covered a distance of over 16 000kms. Cook started at Cape Agulhus (the southern-most tip of Africa) and finshed at Tunisia’s most northerly point, Ras Angela.

In the process he raised more than £700 000 for charity (R16.4m).

‘Hardest Geezer’s’ claim disputed

Cook’s claim to be have been the first man to complete this feat however has been disputed by the World Runners Association (WRA).

In a press release issued on 2 April, the WRA recognised Danish national Jesper Kenn as being the first man to traverse Africa on foot, between 2008 – 2010.

“WRA recognises Mr. Jesper Kenn of Denmark as the first person to have run the length of Africa,” the statement read.

Unlike Cook, Olsen ran a north-south route, starting the Africa crossing from Tabia in Egypt and ran 12 792km to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

“The WRA therefore contests the claim made by British national Mr. Russ Cook to be the first person to run the length of Africa.”

The statement from the WRA was amplified by fellow runner Tony Mangan on Facebook, who said that when he, Jesper and WRA tried to bring this error to Cook’s attention, they were “met with resistance and denial from his crew and supporters.”

“As runners, we should hold each other accountable and strive for honesty and integrity within our community,” Mangan said.

He also questioned Cook’s motives behind his claims, and cited possible reasons like “publicity and attention” and/ or sponsorship opportunities.

“In this situation, it’s not just about one runner claiming a world first … it’s about the impact it has on the running community as a whole,” Mangan added.

“By falsely claiming to be the first runner to complete this journey, Russ Cook is diminishing the achievements of Jesper and all other runners who have attempted or completed this incredible feat.”

Cook covers longer distance in a shorter space of time

Nonetheless, Cook could still hold onto the mantle of “Hardest Geezer” by managing to complete the journey in under a year, and covering a longer distance in a shorter space of time.

Cook faced many challenges, including a gunpoint robbery in Angola. He came in over 100 days behind his original goal despite running over a marathon every day.

Olsen on the other hand completed a 12 791km journey during his crossing, which took him 434 days.