A man aiming to beat the Guinness World Record (GWR) for the fastest person to run the length of Africa, has urged the Ethiopian government to allow him to run his final 500km across the country.

Keith Boyd, 57, from Wargrave, near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, has been running for 270 days and is attempting to run from Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt, in a bid to beat the previous GWR set by Nicholas Bourne, who completed the challenge in 318 days in 1998.

Mr Boyd, who is British-South African, hopes to finish the race in about 280 days, though this has been thrown into doubt after his attempt to run the final stretch across the northern part of Ethiopia was threatened by conflicts in Amhara state.

The ultra-runner has avoided being kidnapped, was held at gunpoint and has tried on three occasions to cross north Ethiopia.

He is now now urging the Ethiopian government to grant him safe passage through this part of the country.

Man runs with children in Africa
Keith Boyd runs with children in Africa (Rainbow Leaders/PA)

Mr Boyd, who was almost taken hostage by rebels with his videographer, Michael, said he thought it was “game over”.

He told the PA news agency: “I had nightmares of them getting us away from the road. I was telling Michael we have to stay near the road and hope police or army would come fast and see this.

“I was held at gunpoint once. They pandered us up a little bit and tried to get us across a field. It was turning into a full-blown kidnapping.”

He added: “The situation was defused rather remarkably because there was a stage where I thought this is game over.

“That was the second time we actually got turned back. We’ve been turned back before and we were turned back a third time by the army, who were under heavy attack from guerrilla fighters. They refused to take us further.”

Mr Boyd, who worked in telecommunications in Africa for more than 30 years, has since set up a petition to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to help him run his final stetch and ensure his run is recognised by GWR.

After writing to the Ethiopian government, African Union, South African embassy and British embassy, Mr Boyd claims it is in the hands of the government to help him complete his challenge.

Man runs on dirt path
Keith Boyd was held at gunpoint during his run across Africa (Rainbow Leaders/PA)

He said: “I think it would be a real tragedy if the last 500km scuppered our chances of (breaking the record) and it would be really disappointing if 26 years after the record was set that that’s the only thing that tripped us up.

“It’s down to the Ethiopians now. They’re going to decide whether I can get this record or not. It’s 100% in their hands.”

So far, Mr Boyd has run 1,100km across the southern part of Ethiopia over two months.

He is running for a non-profit organisation he founded called Rainbow Leaders, which encourages young people in South Africa to vote.

He said the money he raises will be “vitally important” for youngsters.

“We pay young people to go around to schools, institutions and tertiary institutions and talk to young people about how important it is to vote,” he said.

“Not voting is a really bad option that has consequences.”

Mr Boyd now awaits an update from the Ethiopian government which will determine if he can complete his run and break the world record.

Man in high-vis clothing running
Keith Boyd is raising money for Rainbow Leaders (Rainbow Leaders/PA)

He hopes his challenge will encourage people to “unlock their potential”.

“If I, an overweight 57-year-old, can break a 26-year standing record in one of the toughest endurance challenges out there in the world, just imagine what you could do if you put your mind to it?”

Mr Boyd aims to complete his challenge on May 7 and beat the current GWR by about 30 days.

He posts regular updates on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rainbowrunnerza/.

To find out more about his petition visit: https://www.petitions.net/cape_to_cairo_on_foot_world_record_attempt_in_jeopardy_in_ethiopia.