World Guinness set to hand 'Hardest Geezer' Russ Cook world...

Guinness set to hand 'Hardest Geezer' Russ Cook world record for Africa run


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In a statement, Guinness World Records congratulated the former cleaner and salesman on his feat, which included 16 countries and the equivalent of 385 marathons between South Africa and Tunisia, saying that “we are looking forward to receiving evidence from him for the Fastest crossing of Africa on foot (male)”.

The body confirmed: “As per our guidelines, the start and finish point of the record title, Fastest crossing of Africa on foot (male) is Ras Ben Sakka, Tunisia to Cape L’Agulhas, South Africa, which are the Northernmost and Southernmost points of mainland Africa.

“Russ would be the first record holder of this title and we are looking forward to receiving the evidence for our records management team to review.” IeT4xQNd-x4

This is despite the World Runners Association (WRA), a group of seven ultra-runners, claiming that Danish athlete Jesper Olsen became the first man to run Africa in 2010 when he ran 7,949 miles from Taba in Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa in 434 days – 2,113 miles shorter than Mr Cook’s route.

“The World Runners Association therefore contests the claim made by British national Mr Russ Cook to be the first person to run the length of Africa,” said Phil Essam, its president.

Mr Olsen waded into the row by gently chiding Mr Cook for taking days off during his challenge, comparing him to another WRA member, Serge Girard from France, who crossed five continents “without one single day off”.

Guinness World Records told The Telegraph on Monday that there was no such thing as an official record for the first man to run the length of Africa, because “there is no recognised standard for the route, distance or time taken”.

Russ Cook runs with his supporters on the way to Tunisia's Cape Angela

As a result, it only monitors records for the fastest crossing of Africa on foot and the fastest journey from Cape Town to Cairo on foot, which it says is held by another British athlete, Nicholas Bourne, who ran this in 318 days between January and December 1998. Mr Olsen’s run is not a world record.

Marie Leautey, a WRA member who ran around the world in September 2022 and was one of the critics of Mr Cook’s claim, said: “If he now wants to modify his claim and say ‘oh, OK, I’m the fastest’ then I don’t think we have any issue with that… we do really admire what Russ has done, it’s a fantastic run.

“But by saying he was the first man in the world to run across Africa it was like he was denying Jesper and in fact Nicholas’s runs, saying they don’t exist and they hadn’t run across Africa, which they had.”

Mr Cook paid tribute on Monday to his fellow athletes, saying: “There’s plenty of people before me who have done big runs and kudos to all of them because they are all huge challenges, so nothing but respect.”

The Telegraph has contacted Mr Cook for comment. The athlete documented his run on TikTok and hundreds of fans joined him on his final run, which ultimately raised £775,000 for charity.

At the finish line, he admitted “I’m a little tired”, and took a day off afterwards to celebrate.

Even still, he hinted that his next challenge may be just around the corner. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I start planning some more things pretty soon,” he told the BBC.


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