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British man fears not being granted Algerian visa could end charity run across Africa

 ( @hardestgeezer / Twitter)
( @hardestgeezer / Twitter)

A British man fears he will not be granted a visa for Algeria, ending his run across the entirety of Africa.

Russell Cook, from Worthing, West Sussex, aims to complete more than 360 marathons in his journey from the most southerly point of the country to Tunisia’s most northerly point.

The 26-year-old, who is nicknamed the ‘Hardest Geezer’ online, began the extreme challenge on 22 April and is currently on day 279, having already fundraised close to £150,000 for charity.

He is on a mission to become the first person to ever run the length of Africa. “It’s never been done before and there’s a reason for that,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy.”

Mr Cook has been warned against travelling through the border regions of Algeria by the UK Foreign Office over safety fears, as he said he is facing difficulties getting a visa from the country.

Mr Cook expressed his concerns about what this meant for his challenge, writing on X, formerly Twitter, “We haven’t been able to get visas for Algeria, and if we don’t get them, then it’s game over for project Africa.”

He added his mission “is totally hanging on whether we can get permission from Algeria to let us cross in through this border with Mauritania”.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said visa applications are a matter for the issuing country.

However, it advises against all travel to Eastern Mauritania and the border areas with Algeria and the Western Sahara.

The UK government’s travel advice for Algeria says terrorists are “likely” to try to carry out attacks there, including kidnappings.

An FCDO spokesperson told The Independent: “We commend the efforts of Russ Cooke in aid of charity and his achievements so far.

“We have provided him with our travel advice, which clearly sets out the risks involved travelling through these dangerous areas, to where we clearly advise against all travel.

“Our travel advice is just that, advice, and it is up to individuals to decide whether to follow it.”

MP Alexander Stafford, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Algeria, has written a letter to the Algerian Ambassador to the UK, Nourredine Yazid, asking him to help grant a visa to Mr Cook.

He said: “I know that you, the government of Algeria, will not want to see Russ fail at this final hurdle, and I hope that this letter might help expediate his application.”

He added: “Russ' journey is truly inspirational to us all.”