When taking on the challenge to run the length of an entire continent, you are going to need a serious shoe collection. Luckily for Ross Cook a.k.a. the Hardest Geezer, as a Hoka ambassador, he was well equipped with a range of top trails and road running shoes. As you can imagine, the terrain across Africa varies somewhat. From hard-packed trails and dirt tracks to flatter stretches of a mixture of tarmac and more compacted roads, the varying terrain means that you are going to need to rotate your shoes between trail and roads. We delve deeper into the story and the shoes that Cook wore:

A mammoth journey

The 27-year-old departed from South Africa on April 22, 2023, aiming to run across the continent from south to north. On Sunday, April 9, 2024, he completed “Project Africa” in Tunisia, having run over 16,000 km. Having run through 16 countries from the top to the bottom of Africa in 350 days, he managed to raise a staggering amount for charity. He was robbed in Angola, had to change plans due to Algerian visa issues and was forced to stop and rest due at one point to health problems. Despite all of this he kept going and arrived in one piece and to cheering crowds at his final destination. Did we mention he ran the London Marathon not two weeks later?

But what shoes did he wear?

While we marvel at his story, there is one question on many runners’ lips “what shoes did he wear”? With 16,000km equating to about 10,000 miles and working out that a pair of shoes is good for approximately 300-400 miles, he was going to require 25-30 pairs of shoes – we can confirm he did in fact go through 30 pairs in total. 

But which shoes did he wear? Let’s face it there isn’t a one-size fits-all shoe that is going to see you through the entire continent given that the terrain, the weather, the types of roads and the infrastructure are going to verify so much from country to country. His rotation of Hoka running shoes included the following:

Hoka Speedgoat 5

HOKA TRAIL RUNNING SHOES

 

HOKA SPEEDGOAT 5 £140

 

It’s no secret that we are a massive fan of the Speedgoat 5. It’s one of those shoes that you can just run and run in and that handles the various terrain, especially road-to-trail situations. We have run big distances ourselves (admittedly not 16,000 km) but we have ran in this particular shoe for 30 miles without any blisters sore feet or battered toenails. It’s a workhorse of a shoe that offers cushioning and support for this kind of challenge. Some of the words used to describe it? Dependable, robust, reliable, and comfortable. Perfect for rough roads and hard-packed trails. Not so good in mud and slippery terrain but no doubt the shoe that Cook would have chosen for more technical sections of the challenge.

BUY MENS

BUY WOMENS

Bondi 8

HOKA BONDI 8

BONDI 8 £150

 

Not a trail shoe but a very springy road running shoe, the Bondi 8 is not what you call a light shoe however, it is designed to deliver maximum comfort on “easy miles” the aerobic pace at which you can just keep running. These are a soft shoe and wouldn’t have been suited to the more technical parts of the trail – more for slogging it out on the tarmac sections of the continent of which we can imagine there are plenty.

Due to the fact that they have so much foamy cushioning, they aren’t the lightest of shoes but they are still a great supportive shoe for those long miles. They are bulky but they are comfortable!

BUY MENS

BUY WOMENS

Arahi 7

arahi 7

HOKA ARAHI 7 £130

Unlike the Speedgoat 5 and the Bondi 8, the Arahi 7 is a supportive shoe, not a neutral shoe. It offers a firmer ride rather than the springiness that you get from the Bondi, providing stability on tough terrain and a change for the feet from the other shoes in his rotation. Often something as simple as changing your shoes can reinvigorate you and help you battle on for more miles. Having run 60 miles in a day, that feeling of changing to a different pair of shoes half way through gives you a boost.

This isn’t a shoe that we have personally tested but it’s easy to see why Russ chose it to feature in his rotation of shoes for such an epic challenge.

BUY MENS

BUY WOMENS

What next for the Hardest Geezer? Well, how do you top that? we are sure there is plenty more to come from this 27 year old who clearly isn’t done yet. We can’t wait to witness his next challenge