Heroic Modern Day Atlas

Here's a singularly uplifting modern-day version of strength and friendship.

Greek mythology relates the epic tale Atlas' heroic strength who, famously and single handedly, held the heavens aloft.

In an uplifting modern-day version of this story, one courageous athlete recently climbed Mount Olympus - home to the ancient gods - carrying a disabled friend to the summit with him piggy-back style.

Long-distance runner Marios Giannakou has a track record of taking on challenges: He’s trekked 168 miles across the Al Marmoum Desert and he also took first place in a frigid 93-mile cross-country race in Antarctica. Prior to his latest endeavor, he’d already successfully taken in the view from atop Mount Olympus’ highest peak 50 times.

When Giannakou became friends with 22-year-old biology student Eleftheria Tosiou and learned of her dream to experience the summit herself, it seemed only natural that he was more than ready to rise to the occasion. “For me, all international races, the medals and the distinctions so far, mean little compared to that goal,” he told the Greek Reporter.

With Tosiou securely harnessed in a specially modified backpack, Giannakos, along with an eight-member support team, started to the grueling ascent of Olympus’s tallest peak, Mount Mytikas.

When they reached 2,400m, the party stopped to rest. After making camp for the night, they resumed their climb at dawn the following morning. Three hours later, having put in more than 10 hours climbing over the two days, the triumphant pair reached the 2,918m summit.

“There is nothing more real than the dream,” an ecstatic Giannakou posted to his Instagram.

It’s heartening to know that while we generally think of heroes as the stuff of myth and legend, there are actually some shining examples - like Marios Giannakou - who exist in real life too.