Rock Solid, respect for the mountain

Created on Tuesday, 11 July 2023 23:24  |  Written by Elma Koutsilopoulos – Baten

I have been living on Kastellorizo for seventeen years now. One of the things I highly value here is the presence of the sea. From my house, I can see the sea in front of me. Behind our house rises the mountain; in fact, our house is built at the foot of the mountain. Yet, over all these years, I have hardly paid any attention to it. 

My husband and I enjoy hiking in the mountains. We walk the designated paths, wearing sturdy shoes and maintaining a brisk pace. You can spend many hours there because there are various hiking trails. Some of them are well-trodden, while others are little more than goat paths strewn with loose stones.

A good idea often originates from a change in perspective.

Vassilis Kanakaris came to Kastellorizo last year from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. This non-profit organization has been running a sports and exercise program on the island for several years, sending a qualified sports instructor to guide both children and adults in various forms of sports and games.

Start of the half marathon

Vassilis often took a group of children and their parents into the mountains. Simple. After a few excursions, he not only saw a beautiful natural terrain but also realized that on this small island, he could walk 21 kilometers in a circle. The idea worked like a drug for him, and he shared his enthusiasm with others. It was a matter of the right idea, at the right time, in the right place. One problem, there was very little time left to organize it for the summer of 2022. However, knowing you have a golden idea gives you wings. And it didn’t have to be perfect and grand; that half marathon had to be run.

Vassillis (middle) and his team

A small organization was formed, its members tapped into their own contacts, and they quickly launched a trail run, named after the mountain dominating this island, Rock Solid.

The trail run is supported by the Hellenic Olympic Committee. On the one hand, this lends prestige to the event, but it also indicates that the run meets certain standards such as safety for the runners. “But Rock Solid is about Kastellorizo,” says Vassilis. “I see it like this: the mountain, the rock, dictates the race. As a runner, you have to think differently. I hike a lot in the mountains myself, but here, on Kastellorizo, it’s different. The mountain dictates your rhythm; it’s like a dance. When participants ask me for tips, I always say that I can’t tell them much, but one thing is important, respect for the mountain.” He laughs as he says, “I also tell the participants to observe the animal that lives in the mountains, the goat. Look at how a goat moves over the mountain.” “Rock Solid is a race you can’t just run; sometimes it’s jumping from stone to stone, a dance. That requires patience and perseverance.” And then, a bit philosophically, “I think the mountain is the most important thing for this island, not the sea. The mountain shapes the character of this island and its people. That’s why the name Rock Solid was chosen, like the English expression.” Rock solid means very stable, unbreakable. “As a runner, you don’t break the mountain, but the mountain breaks you; it breaks your ego.”

At the request of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, the event was organized on the last weekend of June. Friday, June 23rd is the 1st Olympic Day. Along with eight Olympic champions, the National Olympic Academy organized a number of sports activities, as well as a presentation on Olympic values.

The HOC is impressed by the organization of Rock Solid, a significant reason to support this event. They show their enthusiasm not only by organizing Olympic Day but also by adjusting the route of the Olympic Flame and including Kastellorizo in the route to Paris 2024. The winner of the half marathon, Savvas Potsos, is one of the torchbearers.”

See you,


The rock and the sea

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