A man running the length of Africa for charity has been warned by the UK Foreign Office to avoid travelling through Algeria because of safety concerns.
Russ Cook, from Worthing in West Sussex, has covered more than 7,500 miles in 279 days, but announced this week his challenge was “hanging in the balance” after facing visa issues at the Algerian border with Mauritania – adding there is “no other way” for him to reach the northern tip of Africa.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office(FCDO) commended Mr Cook’s efforts but said his visa issue is “a matter for the issuing country”.
It also claimed it had previously issued travel advice to him advising against travel through “dangerous areas”.
An FCDO spokesperson said: “We commend the efforts of Russ Cook 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. Visa applications are a matter for the issuing country.”
Mr Cook appears to remain optimistic about the situation.
In response to the FCDO’s comments, he said on X, formerly Twitter: “Not ideal news but we will find a way.”
Not ideal news but we will find a way. https://t.co/WRMjzUzTLO
— Russ Cook (@hardestgeezer) January 25, 2024
The marathoner, who is an adventure running guide at The Running Charity, is aiming to travel across the northern part of Africa and previously said reaching Algeria is “the only option we’ve got”.
In a video he posted to X on Tuesday, Mr Cook explained his challenge is “hanging in the balance”.
He said: “I’ve been on the road for 278 days and ran 12,000km through 13 different countries and raised over £140,000 for charity.
“But it is all hanging in the balance, to be honest, on whether Algeria will give us permission to cross this border with Mauritania.”
On Wednesday, Mr Cook posted an update about his visa situation and thanked his followers for supporting his journey.
“The support on yesterday’s post about our problems getting an Algeria visa was incredible,” he said on X.
“Massive thank you to everyone pushing that out far and wide. I will update you as soon as we have anything.”
Mr Cook is running in aid of The Running Charity and so far has raised more than £144,000.