There was only one way to capture the magnitude of Russ Cook’s monumental mission ending – running with the history maker.

Dozens flew in from England and beyond to join the support cast for the final leg on the 352nd day and 16th country of this odyssey across Africa.

They gathered by a petrol station in the tiny town of Ghezala in remote northern Tunisia in the fierce morning heat, waiting for the hero who captured their imaginations to arrive.

No one begrudged him a lie-in after 10,000 miles on the road in the last year on this quest across the continent.

By the time Cook arrived, he was ready to set off, and we tagged along – running while interviewing him live on Sky News.

‘Hardest Geezer’ Russ Cook with Sky’s Rob Harris

“Bit tired. One final push. Finished and done,” he said. “I’ve had a few tears this morning, so I’ve got it out the system.”

Cook wore a 1990s retro England football jersey, while I attempted to keep up in shirt and jeans as the temperature climbed above 25C.

This has been a journey for Cook, discovering Africa and rediscovering himself.

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‘Hardest Geezer’s’ journey across Africa

Drinking and gambling had troubled his mental health before taking up running – and he took it to the extreme.

“You get one chance at life,” he told me. “Go and have a stab at it.”

And after checking he was going the right way, the 27-year-old was off into the Tunisian countryside.

It was far smoother terrain than much of the trek around Africa’s west coast that started at the continent’s most southerly point near Cape Town last April.

Russ Cook's route as he becomes the first person to run the length of Africa
Russ Cook’s route across Africa

Maintaining strength and safety was a constant concern.

In Angola, phones and passports stolen as he was robbed at gunpoint.

All contact was lost in August in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when he was kidnapped. Villagers armed with machetes had to be paid off.

But a growing profile helped summon public and political support for permits, with Algeria eventually allowing entry to evade more violent areas of North Africa.

Sickness, sandstorms and snow challenged even this self-styled Hardest Geezer.

But through illness and injury, he made it to Ras Angela in Tunisia on Sunday before sunset.

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‘Hardest Geezer’ completes Africa run

After a kiss with his girlfriend after completing his adventure of a lifetime, he was off into the sea to cool down.

“I’m a bit tired,” he said.

Not even Russ Cook could be tempted to swim home – this gruelling challenge testing endurance and enterprise was enough for now.