‘Hardest Geezer’ opens with his wild diet and encounter with lions before the next challenge, two weeks after traveling across Africa

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‘Hardest Geezer’ opens with his wild diet and encounter with lions before the next challenge, two weeks after traveling across Africa

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British extreme runner Russ Cook has spoken about his grueling journey across Africa, as he prepares to run the London Marathon.

The ‘Hardest Geezer’, as he is known online, will take part in the UK’s iconic race, meaning he will have completed his 352-day run across Africa just 14 days early.

Cook, up front, overcame extreme weather, injuries and perilous circumstances to complete his historic challenge.

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Cook, up front, overcame extreme weather, injuries and perilous circumstances to complete his historic challenge.Credit: AFP

Cook’s journey from the tip of South Africa to the northernmost point of Tunisia took him through the equivalent of 385 marathons, covering more than 10,000 miles.

The 27-year-old joined Alan Brazil and Gabby Agbonlahor on talkSPORT Breakfast to shed light on this incredible feat, outlining some of the biggest challenges he faced while covering the continent.

His expedition across 16 countries was far from simple, with Cook and his team having been held up at gunpoint during their passage through Angola.

And the ultra-marathoner revealed the perilous situation was one of many extremes that presented themselves during the expedition, which even extended to his diet.

When asked how many calories he consumed each day, he replied, “On average, about 6,000.”

He joked: “The major problem is that now I’ve stopped, I no longer burn 6000 calories, but I still have an appetite for 6000 calories!”

Expanding on the contents of his food intake, Cook admitted that it was mainly products supplied by the complete nutrition brand Huel.

The Worthing native explained: “I was sponsored by Huel and they settled me.

“They make a complete diet in a way that’s very easy to consume, so they sent me a lot of stuff and I ate a lot of it.”

Despite this, he still takes the time to taste more traditional products, adding: “I also ate a lot of local food, that is to say rice, pulp, a little meat, cassava. It was changing all the time.

But while he was able to benefit from a healthy diet, Cook faced a whole host of trials and tribulations while pushing his body to extremes, including encounters with African wildlife.

Asked if he had faced any danger from animals, he said: “Snakes were the main danger,” before adding that he “did a split” from the creatures potentially venomous.

Cook continued: “There were several times, especially in the evening, snakes would come onto the road because the tarmac was a little warmer.

“So they were coming down the road and I saw some of them [of] big boys.”

And snakes were not the only face-to-face of the man considered to be the first to have traveled all of Africa.

He offered a light-hearted version of another of his encounters: ““I only saw one lion. [It] I ran away, I didn’t like it, did I?

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The ‘Hardest Geezer’ revealed to talkSPORT he is already considering traveling to another continent
Cook was joined by hundreds of supporters during the final stage of his race

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Cook was joined by hundreds of supporters during the final stage of his raceCredit: AFP

The elite athlete also cited the “brutal” weather conditions he faced during his time across the continent as one of his biggest challenges.

Cook said: “The heat was brutal, like different types of heat as well. You cross the Congo, and in West Africa it was between 35 and 40 degrees every day, 95% humidity.

“I was constantly sweating. [I would] I just wake up in the middle of the night, a puddle of sweat. It was so hard.”

Despite the physical torture he endured, having suffered spasms and numbness in his legs due to a back injury suffered just over halfway through the challenge, Cook revealed it was also the realization of a long-term dream.

Discussing the inspiration for racing across the continent, the ‘Hardest Geezer’ explained: “I did Istanbul to London in 2019. And since then, pretty much, I’ve been thinking about what I could potentially do Next.

“And I saw Africa, it was like a great chimera. Large and beautiful continent, no one has ever traveled it from north to south or from south to north.

“And then it kind of shook things up, [it] it took about three years to get [there]I had to convince someone to give me money to get it started and all that kind of stuff.

“It took a while, but I finally got there.”

Cook will take part in the London Marathon alongside an expected 50,000 other runners

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Cook will take part in the London Marathon alongside an expected 50,000 other runners

Cook will now focus his attention on the upcoming London Marathon, which he will run alongside teenagers from The Running Charity, a British organization that supports homeless young people.

When asked if he would be able to cope with his latest physical quest, he was emphatic in his response: “No problem, yeah.”

He then explained that he would take a back seat during the race: “It’s not about me on the weekend. We have a group of young people running [for] charity.”

Cook went on to say, “It’s amazing some of the things they had to go through, and I’m just going to follow them and help them cross the finish line.”

Nevertheless, the extreme runner said he was “really excited” at the idea of ​​taking part in this event, which will be a first for him, before turning to his next challenge.

When asked by Agbonlahor if he would consider traveling all of South America, Cook dropped a hint about his future, saying: “I’m looking. I think I’m interested in that one.”

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