Guns, Machetes and Illness: The Perils of Running the Length of Africa

Going for a run can get a bit more difficult when it lasts for a year and is complicated by robbery, illness and men with machetes.

Russ Cook, a 27-year-old Englishman, completed his south-to-north run across the continent of Africa on Sunday in Cape Angela, Tunisia. He had set off from Cape Agulhas, South Africa, on April 22, 2023.

Along the way, he faced hardships not often seen in an easy meander around a suburban park.

In Angola, he was robbed at gunpoint. In Namibia, he got food poisoning. In the Republic of Congo, he was accosted by men with machetes. In Algeria, he had visa issues.

In the end, he passed through 16 countries. After his start in South Africa, he mostly skirted the west side of the country, sticking fairly close to the ocean. He said he chose the West African route primarily for safety reasons, although he nonetheless ran into dangerous situations.

In June in Angola, Cook was taking a break with his crew in the team’s support van when a man with a gun opened the door. The man made off with money, phones and a camera, but no one was hurt.

“He’s going to take things; we’re going to have to allow it.” Cook said shortly afterward in a YouTube video.

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