Every June, the Messolonghi Hunting Association honors Yiannis Gounaris-Zoukas, the hunter and eventually monk of Kleisoura, who sacrificed his own to save Messolonghi at Christmas 1822.
Since October 1822, Messolonghi has been closely besieged by the troops of Omer Vryonis. All the efforts of the enemies to occupy Messolonghi fall in vain. Just before Christmas, the Turkish Pasha plans a general raid at the time when the Christians will be in the churches. However, a Giannis follower of the Pasha, Giannis Gounaris-Zoukas and while his family is under Turkish hostage in Arta, learns of his master’s plans and decides, knowing that he was risking the safety of his family to secretly leave the camp, to head to the east of Messolongion and, in the area of the salt flats, on the road to Aitolikos, to alert the Greeks he met. Gounaris’ action saved Messolonghi and the revolution in Western Greece, but condemned his wife and children to death.
Gounaris decided to hide in the parts of Zygos, in a cave in the area called Kleisoura and, having lost everything but his faith, decided to become a monk on the spot using the cave as a cell. The Health Runners Athletic Association of Aitolikos, as part of the events in honor of Yiannis Gounaris-Zoukas, are organizing the 9 km sacrifice race.
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