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“ I n less than one month, Project Africa begins. 360 marathons in 240 days – and this is how I’m going to do it,” loudly claims a strikingly ginger-bearded English man, soon to become known to the world as being the first person to run across the entire length of Africa. On 7 April 2024, Russ Cook, who is better known to those on the internet as the Hardest Geezer, successfully completed Project Africa, crossing the finish line in Tunisia after a painstaking 352 days spent hacking his way through jungles, dirt tracks and deserts. Cook has said that, prior to setting off on the

Geezer YouTube channel – plus content across other social media platforms. Despite the abnormality of what Cook was attempting, it was a surprisingly gradual rise to fame – rather than the usual explosive virality that social media has been known to offer. It was predominantly in the final few months of the project that the Hardest Geezer YouTube channel truly began to skyrocket. Viewing numbers soared, and his progress became increasingly tracked across the mainstream media. This was reflected on the final day of the challenge, where hundreds flew out to Tunisia to either watch him cross the finish line, or even have the chance to run the concluding marathon alongside him. The tearful looks of relief, exhaustion and somewhat disbelief that are seen in the last vlog and photographs from that surreal last day reflect the true magnitude of what the team had just undertaken. To put it plainly: a lot had happened since Cook had set off back in February 2023.

mammoth challenge, he had always hoped to look back at his life and have no regrets. The 27-year- old from Worthing, west Sussex, said he struggled previously with his mental health, gambling and drinking, and wanted to ‘make a difference.’ If one thing is certain, he can tick that last goal off his list. As of June 2024, Cook has raised in excess of £1 million for charity – as a direct result of the project. When you pair this with the completion of the perilous challenge itself, his inspiring impact has been felt by many across the world. However, it wasn’t just the endless days of ‘smashing tarmac’ (a phrase commonly used by Cook) that contributed to Project Africa’s success. He assembled a small team of adventurers, editors, videographers and filmmakers who travelled with him at different points across the vast continent, there to ensure the experience was recorded through the excruciatingly hard times – as well as the many uplifting good ones. Not only there to gather content for a yet-to-be-released documentary, the team were enlisted to film, edit and upload regular bi-weekly vlogs to the Hardest

PIT STOP Shooting for the documentary, YouTube vlogs and social media, Karp had to ensure they captured enough content along the way


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