Russ Cook (Hardest Geezer): I Haven't Told The Whole Truth About Africa!

Russ Cook (Hardest Geezer): I Haven't Told The Whole Truth About Africa!

Intro (00:00:00)

  • Russ Cook attempted to run the entire length of Africa and faced significant challenges.
  • He encountered difficulties on a dirt path and spent 7 hours on his motorbike in the jungle.
  • Russ was kidnapped during his journey, and his partner feared for his life.
  • Russ Cook achieved several notable feats before attempting to run across Africa.
  • At 22, he became the first person to run from Asia to London.
  • He buried himself alive for 7 days and pulled a car.
  • Russ's life had taken a difficult turn, and he was struggling with personal issues.
  • He sought adventure and believed Africa would provide the ultimate challenge.
  • Russ began experiencing health problems, including passing blood in his urine.
  • He was robbed at gunpoint, losing his passport and money.
  • Russ had a falling out with his team, leading to a heated argument.
  • Russ encourages listeners to subscribe to his podcast and hit the Subscribe button.
  • A larger subscriber base attracts bigger guests for the podcast.

Russ' Childhood & Being Rebellious (00:02:03)

  • Russ had a normal upbringing.
  • His father was a hardworking man who cut metal for a living and instilled a strong work ethic in Russ.
  • His mother was very caring and polite, and enforced good manners in her children.
  • Russ' father's absence due to work had a significant impact on him, but Russ understands that his father was doing his best to provide for the family.
  • Russ' father was a man of action rather than words, and Russ admired his willpower and determination.
  • Russ started his career as a chef and worked in various restaurants.
  • He then transitioned into the adventure industry, working as a mountain guide and expedition leader.
  • Russ's adventurous spirit and love for challenges led him to pursue more extreme and ambitious expeditions.
  • He became known for his ability to endure extreme conditions and push the boundaries of human endurance.

Relationship With My Parents (00:05:50)

  • Russ Cook's upbringing lacked emotional expression and deep conversations within his family.
  • Russ Cook struggled to find guidance and answers from his parents and other authority figures who appeared unhappy.
  • Feeling dissatisfied with the lifestyles of the adults around him, Russ Cook yearned for more in life.
  • At the age of 16 or 17, Russ Cook made the decision to leave home due to worsening family circumstances.

Trying To Get People’s Attention (00:12:00)

  • Russ Cook had a challenging upbringing, feeling disconnected from his parents and lacking guidance for his energy and ambition.
  • At the age of 17, he moved out of his parents' house and faced financial struggles, working multiple part-time jobs to support himself.
  • Russ believes his parents' decision to make him leave home was intended to humble him and teach him about the world.
  • He stresses the significance of guidance and role models for young people to prevent them from losing their way.

Distancing Himself from Family (00:17:04)

  • Russ had a strained relationship with his parents from a young age.
  • He moved out at 17 and didn't speak to them for a long time.
  • Russ acknowledges that his tough exterior is a coping mechanism for his emotions.
  • Despite his anger, he understands that his parents love him and always have his best interests at heart.

The Impact of Russ' Girlfriend (00:19:29)

  • Russ' girlfriend played a crucial role in rebuilding his relationship with his parents.
  • She visited them and spoke to them on his behalf.
  • Russ believes women have more tools for building bridges within families.
  • His girlfriend's efforts have helped him reconnect with his parents after years of estrangement.

Moving Out as a Teenager (00:21:06)

  • Moved out of home as a teenager and got a flat in Worthing.
  • Worked multiple jobs while struggling through college.
  • Was inspired by the movie "Wolf of Wall Street" and pursued a career in sales.
  • Achieved some financial success but found the work unfulfilling.
  • Spent the next few years socializing, drinking, and gambling with friends.

Going Down the Wrong Path (00:22:29)

  • Russ Cook was addicted to gambling and lost significant amounts of money, including his overdraft, on online roulette.
  • He was embarrassed to admit his gambling problem and lied to his partner about needing money for rent.
  • Russ also engaged in binge drinking as a way to cope with his miserable job and lack of fulfillment in life.
  • He felt trapped and lacked deep connections with others, contributing to his overall poor mental health.
  • At the time, Russ was approximately 18-20 years old.
  • He describes his mental health during that period as "toilet" and "pretty bad."

Russ' Mental Health (00:26:08)

  • Russ experienced severe mental health struggles, including intense crying spells and a sense of helplessness.
  • He felt trapped in a cycle of negative habits, such as excessive gambling, drinking, and a lack of fulfillment.
  • Russ had dark thoughts and reached a personal rock bottom, feeling like he couldn't escape his situation.
  • Russ found guidance and support through online resources, particularly podcasts like Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson.
  • He believes that access to these resources helped him improve his mental health and avoid staying in a negative state for longer.
  • Russ' parents were likely unaware of the extent of his struggles during that time.
  • He tends to keep his personal struggles to himself, which may have contributed to their lack of knowledge.

What Would Russ Say to His Younger Self (00:30:54)

  • Keeping things to yourself doesn't mean they stay inside, they express themselves in other ways.
  • People may develop addictions as a way to ease the burden of holding onto things.
  • Russ would tell his younger self to take responsibility for his situation and stop blaming others.
  • Ultimately, no one was going to come and save him, it had to be him.

Russ' Epiphany (00:33:11)

  • Russ was struggling with life and felt the need to make positive changes.
  • He had an epiphany in a nightclub and decided to run home, which was about 12 miles.
  • A friend who had started running properly convinced Russ to train for and run a half marathon, and then a full marathon.
  • The process of training and completing the marathons gave Russ a sense of accomplishment and progress.

The Feeling of Progressing in Life (00:36:09)

  • Russ realized that the feeling of progress and accomplishment he experienced through running could be applied to other areas of his life.
  • He saved up money, stopped drinking as much, and stopped gambling.
  • With the money he saved, Russ decided to travel the world.

Travelling the World Running (00:36:57)

  • Russ Cook got into running and trained hard in Kenya.
  • He met an Italian cyclist who inspired him to travel the world.
  • He conceived the idea of running from Istanbul to London.

First Challenges (00:37:53)

  • Russ Cook became the first person to run from Asia to London at 22 years old.
  • He completed 71 marathons in 66 days through 11 countries without a team.
  • Most people, including his family, were skeptical about his ability to complete the run.
  • He faced challenges such as running alone, sleeping in a hammock, and having a dying phone.

Doing Things That Aren’t Considered Normal (00:40:05)

  • Russ reflects on his past behavior and acknowledges that it was not typical or normal.
  • Meeting people from different cultures and with unique experiences, like a cyclist who had been traveling for six years, made him realize that there is no set definition of normalcy.
  • Certain parts of Kenya taught him that one doesn't need much to live a fulfilling life.
  • Traveling and encountering diverse individuals can change one's perspective and challenge societal norms.
  • Upon returning to London, Russ noticed how people are programmed to follow certain societal expectations, such as getting a flat and living a conventional life.
  • His first ultramarathon was a spontaneous decision, and his father's pride in him was a powerful moment.
  • His father ran the last 5K with him, and his running buddy from the beginning also joined him for the last few days.
  • Despite the lack of social media attention, headlines, or BBC articles, Russ's accomplishment went largely unnoticed.

Returning from the First Trip (00:43:28)

  • Russ Cook returned to the UK after his first trip and received a different reception compared to his recent return.
  • He was physically exhausted and struggled to walk due to the challenges he faced during the trip.
  • His father criticized him for being lazy and told him to get a job.
  • Russ felt frustrated and mentally and physically drained after the trip.
  • His father eventually expressed pride in his achievements, which Russ felt was a breakthrough in their relationship.

What Did Your Dad Think Of You (00:45:11)

  • Russ's father likely viewed him as a disappointment and a loser during his younger years due to his gambling and lack of direction.
  • Russ had a two-year gap between his 22-year-old run and burying himself alive.
  • During this time, he worked various jobs and began to consider making a career out of his adventures.
  • He realized that creating content and gaining sponsorship could allow him to pursue adventures professionally.
  • Russ started posting photos on Instagram to share his experiences with friends.
  • After the O-Line run, he decided to create content as a means to fund his adventures.
  • He then buried himself alive, pulled a car for a marathon, and began planning his Africa trip.

Russ DM’d Steven Before Going To Africa (00:47:16)

  • Russ sent Steven a DM on May 5th, 2022, introducing himself and his accomplishments.
  • Steven missed the DM and replied exactly one year later, on May 5th, 2023.
  • Russ explained that he had done several endurance challenges in the past, including running from Asia to London, pulling a car for a marathon, and being buried alive for a week.
  • Russ asked Steven for assistance with the Africa leg of his upcoming challenge.

Why Africa? (00:49:15)

  • Africa had not been done before and was not well-traveled, which made it an appealing adventure.
  • Russ planned to run from the bottom to the top of Africa, covering 360 marathons in 240 days.
  • The actual journey ended up taking 352 days.

Meeting His Girlfriend Before Leaving to Africa (00:50:05)

  • Russ Cook met his girlfriend, Emily Bell, at a mutual friend's birthday party and eventually convinced her to go on a date with him.
  • Before Russ left for Africa, they decided to try a long-distance relationship and spoke on the phone daily.
  • Russ believes that the time apart allowed them to have deep conversations and strengthen their relationship.
  • Emily describes Russ as someone who doesn't easily accept support, but she has learned that he values space and independence.
  • Russ acknowledges his growth and increased willingness to accept support from Emily.
  • Russ expresses his deep care for Emily and his desire to be the best version of himself for her.

How Have You Changed (00:55:40)

  • Russ Cook explains how his mindset has changed since meeting his partner, Emily.
  • Before, he was less willing to compromise and more focused on his own goals.
  • With Emily, he realized the benefits of compromise and how it can enhance his life.
  • Emily's influence has helped him change from within.
  • Russ Cook describes how meeting someone he cared about deeply led him to compromise on things he previously wouldn't have.
  • He acknowledges that he used to have a "my way or the highway" approach, but now he's willing to adjust his direction in certain areas of his life.
  • Russ believes this change is positive and offers hope to others who may be avoidant in relationships.
  • He emphasizes the importance of finding someone worth compromising for and how it can help rewire negative beliefs about relationships formed in early years.
  • Russ expresses his love and appreciation for Emily, acknowledging that she's a wonderful person who has strengthened their relationship through shared challenges.

Preparations to Run the Entire Length of Africa (00:57:27)

  • Russ Cook and his team embarked on a challenging journey across Africa despite financial constraints and visa restrictions.
  • Despite limited funds, Russ remained resourceful and sought creative solutions to keep the mission going.
  • A viewer named Jes provided crucial support and encouragement, leading to sponsorships that transformed the mission's trajectory.
  • Russ reached out to the founders of an energy drink company he met on Dragon's Den for potential sponsorship.
  • Russ had been planning and preparing for his journey across Africa for a year before he messaged the founders.
  • Despite having a small social media following, Russ's unique and inspiring journey caught the attention of the energy drink company, who agreed to support him.
  • During his journey, Russ faced health issues and financial challenges but remained determined to continue.
  • Russ experienced a minor robbery incident in South Africa.

Getting Robbed (01:04:15)

  • Russ Cook was running at night when two men approached him, one in front and one behind.
  • He sensed danger and started acting crazy, beating his chest and shouting to scare them off.
  • The man behind dropped off, leaving only the smaller man in front of him.
  • Russ spoke to the man and learned that his friend had planned to rob him but backed out.
  • The man was in need of money to feed his family, so Russ offered to give him food instead.
  • Russ's friends arrived, and they gave the man a lift back.
  • On day 50 of their trip, Russ and his team were robbed at gunpoint in Angola.
  • Three men on a motorbike pulled up, pointed a gun at them, and spoke in Portuguese.
  • The robbers took their passports, money, cameras, drone, and phones.
  • Russ says he hasn't fully processed the incident and doesn't know if he's deeply affected by it.

Being Kidnapped (01:08:46)

  • Russ Cook, a YouTuber known as "Hardest Geezer," faced numerous challenges during his journey in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country known for its poverty, corruption, and violence.
  • While traveling through a village, he upset the locals by rushing through without interacting with them, leading to a tense situation where he was surrounded by angry villagers demanding money.
  • Russ managed to calm the situation and fled into the jungle, where he got lost without water, a signal, or any knowledge of the local language or culture.
  • He encountered more locals who tried to stop him, but he refused their help, fearing they might be sent by the angry villagers.
  • Russ was also kidnapped by two men on a motorbike and taken to a village in the jungle, where he was held in a hut while the villagers argued about money.
  • He was eventually released after his friends arrived and paid the demanded money.
  • Throughout his journey, Russ experienced anxiety and was out of communication with his partner, Emily, who was extremely worried about him.

Facing Death (01:25:05)

  • Russ thought he was going to die and accepted it as God's will.
  • He thought about people back home, including his parents and Emily.
  • He regretted not repairing relationships and holding on to resentment and pride.
  • He felt like he was letting Emily down by not fulfilling their plans together.
  • He acknowledged how difficult it was for Emily during that time.

Aftermath [N/A]

  • After being released, Russ and his team faced the challenge of processing and figuring out what happened.
  • It was difficult for everyone involved as they were all struggling and had no spare energy to think of anyone else.

Team Struggles (01:30:34)

  • Russ Cook admits that he did not share the full truth about the difficulties faced during his Africa trip, including a falling out among the team and disagreements about spending money in impoverished villages.
  • Cook acknowledges that he made a mistake by prioritizing content creation over logistics and African expertise, leading to a team member's departure.
  • Cook's emotional outburst during a meeting further strained the team's dynamics, prompting him to reorganize and reshuffle responsibilities to avoid burnout and maintain morale.
  • Cook, known as the "Hardest Geezer," shares his experience of cycling up and down Africa alone and highlights the exceptional contributions of Gus X power from the Dutch military, who joined his team as a logistics expert.
  • Cook reveals his investment in the company "Perfect De" on Dragon's Den, which has become the fastest-growing energy drink in the UK. He endorses Perfect De on his podcast for its all-day energy benefits without crashes or jitters and encourages viewers to try it with a 10% discount using the code "diary10" at checkout.

Was Quitting an Option? (01:36:50)

  • Russ experienced severe back pain, shooting nerve pains down his leg, and limited mobility.
  • The back injury persisted and caused ongoing pain.
  • Emily mentioned that Russ was "pretty done" around day 200 due to the pain.
  • The closest Russ came to quitting was in the Congo, thinking it was stupid and dangerous.
  • In December (day 241), Russ was mistaken for a spy and taken to a police station in Ivory Coast.

Visa Issues (01:39:46)

  • Algeria does not grant visas unless you're in your home country.
  • The FCO and many people advised Russ not to travel to Algeria.
  • Algerian authorities denied Russ a visa.
  • Russ decided to launch an online campaign, primarily on Twitter, to gain attention and pressure Algeria to grant him a visa.

Nearing the End (01:41:27)

  • Russ Cook's campaign to enter Algeria gained significant attention, with support from Elon Musk and a visa granted by Algeria.
  • Despite facing challenges like a truck breakdown in the Sahara Desert, Cook and his team remained resilient and focused on finding solutions.
  • As Cook neared the finish line, his happiness grew, and media interest in his journey intensified.
  • Crowds of supporters, including his girlfriend and father, gathered to cheer him on during the final leg of his journey.
  • Cook's relationship with his father improved as they spent time together during the final stages of the journey.
  • Russ Cook and Emily's relationship played a crucial role in supporting him throughout the mission.
  • On the last day, Cook became emotional upon seeing his father, feeling a sense of closure and pride.
  • Cook's father expressed immense pride in his son's accomplishment, deeply moving Russ.
  • Crossing the finish line felt surreal and overwhelming for Cook after the long and challenging journey.
  • Russ Cook experienced a mix of gratitude, relief, and accomplishment as he reflected on his successful completion of the mission.

Crossing the Line (01:48:31)

  • Reached the northernmost point of Africa.
  • The salute meant more than just a random gesture.
  • It symbolized the closure of certain chapters in life.
  • It proved certain things and demonstrated personal growth.

What’s Next? (01:49:03)

  • Russ is trying to distance himself from everyone and everything.
  • He is overwhelmed by the attention and emails he is receiving.
  • He needs time to figure out what he wants to do next.
  • He misses his solid routine of exercising every day.
  • Russ is feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
  • He is struggling to adjust to his new routine.
  • He is missing the routine of exercising every day.

What Was the Goal? (01:53:59)

  • Russ Cook, also known as "Hardest Geezer," reflects on his journey after completing his run across Africa.
  • Despite achieving fame, he still faces challenges, including finding a place to live and determining his next career steps.
  • Cook expresses a desire to document the journeys of others, particularly those starting from scratch and pursuing ambitious goals.
  • He acknowledges that his newfound fame has compromised his solitude but remains optimistic that the attention will eventually subside.
  • Cook was involved with a running charity for several years and previously worked as an adventure guide leading mountain climbing and nature expeditions.
  • The charity's fundraising goal is one million pounds, and they are close to reaching it, currently at around 970 thousand pounds.
  • Cook's story inspires millions, motivating individuals to push through difficult moments and seek guidance and purpose.
  • His journey serves as a blueprint for others, especially 19-year-olds, who may feel hopeless and helpless.
  • Cook's story provides evidence that positive change is possible, resonating with many people who find themselves in similar circumstances.

Russ Inspiring Others (01:58:54)

  • Russ has raised over a million pounds for charity.
  • Julian Hearn from HU donated the remaining funds needed to reach the £1 million goal.
  • Perfect Head, an energy drink company that Russ has invested in, has produced a limited edition strawberry daquiri-flavored drink called the "Hardest Energy."
  • Proceeds from the sale of the drink will be donated to Russ's charity campaign.
  • Russ's catchphrase "get me to a Tunisian beach for a strawberry daquiri" during his mission inspired the drink's flavor.
  • Russ would like Ron Weasley to play him in a movie about his life.
  • Russ's favorite place to relax is sitting outside Tesco, eating snacks.
  • Russ's story has inspired many people to aim higher, pursue bigger challenges, and push themselves to the limits.
  • Russ is seen as a shining example and a North Star for those struggling with mental health and a lack of meaning in their lives.

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