Though the pair finished the 155-mile race, their journey together is only beginning.
When competitive runner Dion Leonard set out on the 4 Deserts Gobi March 2016, a 6-day foot race through China’s largest desert, he couldn’t have imagined that he would adopt – or rather, be adopted by – a stray dog by the finish line. Yet, that’s exactly what happened.
The 155-mile cross country race began like any other, but it was at mile 20 that Leonard received company in the form of a stray dog. The homeless pup completed the 22-mile stretch with the runners, and shortly after decided it was Leonard’s heart she wanted to win over.
Imagine Dion’s surprise when, the next day, the dog met him at the starting line. He told The Dodo:
“On Day 2, I was at the start line for the race stage and she was standing next to me looking up at me. 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.”
At the end of that day, the dog still refused to leave Leonard’s side, which is why he affectionately named her Gobi.
Day 3, Gobi joined Leonard on yet another 26-mile stretch, surprising fans, officials and, most importantly, her new best friend.
“For a little dog Gobi certainly has a big heart and some pace to match,” said Leonard.
On the days that the weather was deemed to be too dangerous for the dog, the organizers gave her a ride so she could be with Leonard in the evenings. On the final day, the duo crossed the finish line together.
Few people could do what the small dog did – run a large portion of a 155-mile race. Because the dog obviously chose Leonard and has a fighting spirit, the runner is doing what he can to adopt her and transport her to Scotland.
It’s all much easier in theory, however. It’s a long and expensive procedure to get a dog cleared for entrance into the U.K., which is why a campaign was set up to raise funds to transport Gobi to Scotland. Already, the fundraiser has exceeded its goal by 278%!
When Leonard returned to Scotland, he left Gobi in the care of a close friend in China. Now that the funds have been raised, she may undergo a medical check and a 4-month quarantine to be reunited with the man she claimed in China.
“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,” said Leonard.
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