When Dion Leonard signed up for the extreme 4 Deserts Gobi March 2016, we'll bet he wasn't expecting to have a four-legged companion for the whole race! But that's exactly what happened.
The Australian runner was taking part in the intense 155-mile racein China's biggest desert, which took place this summer and lasted 6 days.Leonard spotted atiny dog atthe race's start point, which was near where the stray pup was living. She began jogging along beside the 101 runners for the first 22 miles.
However, it wasn't until the second day when the dogstood right beside him that Leonard really started to notice her. He tells The Dodo:
I thought to myself this little dog isn't going to last very long at my side as we raced off, but she ended up running the whole day and 23 miles distance.
And at the end of the day she even followed him into his tent and lay down beside him! Leonard called his new friend Gobi.
Gobi carried on through the 26-mile third day and quickly became the star of the race, though Leonard had to carry her across the river when she started to struggle:
It's fair to say that I didn't really have the time to fetch and carry her, but I realised then that I couldn't leave her behind.
Gobi couldn't run for Days 4 and 5, but she was at Leonard's side for the final Day 6 and they crossed the finish line together.
The little pup incredibly managed to run more than half of the 155 miles of the race! And now that their special bond has been established, Leonard can't bear to say goodbye to her.
But it's more difficult than it seems: Leonard lives in Scotland and according to UK law, Gobi will have to go through a medical examination and a period of 4 months in quarantine, and this will come at no small cost.The runner is absolutely devoted to bringing Gobi home and has left her with a friend in China until they are reunited again. He's already begun the process, with donations flooding in to help Leonard with the costs.
But he wouldn't have it any other way: "Gobi picked me to be her pal for life, so I am doing what I can with some great support from around the word to make this happen."You can support his cause here.