Long-distance runner Marios Giannakou completed the race of his life on Monday as he climbed to the summit of Mount Olympus carrying the disabled Eleftheria Tosiou on his back.
“There is nothing more real than the dream,” Giannakou wrote on Instagram, as he reached Mytikas, the peak of the Mountain of the Gods, at 9:02 local time.
Tosiou is 22 years old and is a student of biology in Thessaloniki. The two met in September and the young woman expressed to Giannakou her desire to climb to the highest peak of Olympus, a route the runner had already completed 50 times successfully. But the 51st, he had said, would be the most special for him.
Just before the climb to the top, Giannakou said: “With Eleftheria we will try to climb next week (early October) to the highest peak in Greece, carrying her on my back with a specially modified backpack.”
“For me, all international races, the medals and the distinctions so far, mean little compared to that goal.”
Eleftheria was tied to a specially modified backpack that Giannakou wore on his back throughout the climb — which took more than 10 hours.
Giannakos carried Eleftheria in a specially-made backpack and climbed with an eight-member support crew. They reached a refuge at 2,400 m, where they spent the night before setting off at 06:00 on Monday for Mt Mytikas, Olympus’ highest peak (2,918 m).
The athlete from Drama who has crossed 270 kilometers (168 miles) in the hot Al Marmoum Desert and finished first in the 150 kilometer (93 miles) race in freezing Antarctica can now say that he has also climbed Greece’s highest mountain with his friend Eleftheria — and made an impossible dream come true for her.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis congratulated the two through an online chat with the endurance runner and the young woman, who is studying at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, while they were still at a refuge on their way down.
“It was a fantastic idea, and we are very happy you implemented it,” the premier said, wishing them a safe completion of their return.