Foreign Office gives warning to Worthing man running length of Africa

Russell Cook running in Africa
Image caption,The UK government warns terrorists are “likely” to try to carry out attacks in Algeria, including kidnappings

A man running the length of Africa has been advised to avoid travelling through Algeria by the UK Foreign Office over safety concerns.

Russell Cook, from Worthing, West Sussex, had originally planned to complete 360 marathons in 240 days.

After visa complications, the 26-year-old said the challenge could be in doubt.

The government warned terrorists were “likely” to try to carry out attacks in Algeria, including kidnappings.

The extreme challenge began at South Africa’s most southerly point on 22 April and is due to finish at Tunisia’s most northerly point.

Mr Cook, nicknamed “Hardest Geezer”, had originally aimed to run 9,320 miles (14,500km), crossing 16 borders, but extended the challenge due to complications with his visas, health scares, geopolitical issues and an armed robbery.

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End of twitter post by Russ Cook

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said it had provided Mr Cook with travel advice.

“It clearly sets out the risks involved travelling through these dangerous areas, to where we clearly advise against all travel,” a spokesman said.

“Our travel advice is just that, advice, and it is up to individuals to decide whether to follow it. Visa applications are a matter for the issuing country.”

Russell Cook running in Africa
Image caption,Russell Cook had originally planned to complete 360 marathons in 240 days.

Mr Cook previously said the challenge could be in doubt if he could not secure permission to cross the border into Algeria from Mauritania.

“I’ve been on the road for 278 days, ran 12,000km (7,456 miles) across 13 different countries, raised over £140,000 for charity – but it is all hanging in the balance,” he said.

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

In a letter to Nourredine Yazid, 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.

“Russ’ journey is truly inspirational to us all.”

Tim Loughton, the Conservative MP for East Worthing, has also publicly offered his help and support.

The challenge is in aid of The Running Charity and has raised £144,492 so far.

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