British Ultrarunner Running Length of Africa Is Robbed At Gunpoint

Sixty-four days into his 240-day expedition to run the length of Africa, British ultrarunner Russell Cook hit his first major hurdle. Two armed men stopped Cook and his support crew in Angola and robbed them at gunpoint.

15,000km across Africa

Cook is attempting to run 360 marathons in 240 days, covering 15,000km from the tip of South Africa to the northern coast of Tunisia. He claims this will make him “the first person ever to run the full length of Africa.” Cook had already run through South Africa and Namibia before entering Angola.

Russell Cook on the road

Russell Cook. Photo: Russell Cook


“Met the boys for a lunch break. Chatting our usual dribble in the van like any other day when a couple of lads popped open the side door and demanded everything we had. Desperate blokes with guns pointed. Infamously bad situation to find yourself on the end of. Proper spot of bother. Damage limitation,” Cook wrote on Twitter.

The team was relieved of their cash, phones, cameras, and passports. Thankfully, no one was hurt. “Could’ve been a lot worse. Local police are doing as much as they can to help. The relentless nature of this mission is quite something. Problems from every angle. No respite. Till the bitter end,” Cook said.

Cook will continue, with the police in tow

The police response includes an escort for the rest of Cook’s run through Angola. “Feel sorry for the guy who’s got to sit at 10kph in his motor all day. Grateful that Angola is doing what they can to keep us safe,” Cook wrote in a recent update.

The Angola police are now providing an escort.

The Angola police are now providing an escort. Photo: Russell Cook


It’s not only armed bandits that Cook is struggling with. He’s also had to give up on malaria medication. The anti-malarial drugs make his head spin, and he has found that running marathons while taking them is impossible. Instead, he’ll have to focus on limiting bites.

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a writer and editor for ExplorersWeb.

Martin has been writing about adventure travel and exploration for over five years.

Martin spent most of the last 15 years backpacking the world on a shoestring budget. Whether it was hitchhiking through Syria, getting strangled in Kyrgyzstan, touring Cambodia’s medical facilities with an exceedingly painful giant venomous centipede bite, chewing khat in Ethiopia, or narrowly avoiding various toilet-related accidents in rural China, so far, Martin has just about survived his decision making.

Based in Da Lat, Vietnam, Martin can be found in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.