Ultra marathon runner adopts stray dog who followed him during race

Australian ultrarunner Dion Leonard didn’t go into June’s Gobi March 2016 race with the intention of adopting a dog and bringing it home to the United Kingdom from China. But that’s what he ended up doing after the 150-mile race.

At the beginning of Stage 2, a stray dog was hanging around the starting line. As Leonard told 4 Deserts, “Once we had begun the stage Gobi seemed to like the bright yellow color of my gaiters and proceeded to run next to me. When she came into camp she followed me straight into my tent, laid down next to me and that was that — a bond had been developed.

Dion accompanied by Gobi. Photo: Courtesy of 4 Deserts

Dion accompanied by Gobi. Photo: Courtesy of 4 Deserts

From then on, Gobi the dog had become the star of the race. She never left Leonard’s side, running most of the final four stages with him. Leonard told BBC, “She would run ahead of me and wait for me 20 or 30 meters down the road and then I’d have to catch up with her … she’s such a small dog but had a massive heart.”

Leonard also said there were times he had to carry her across large rivers that she wouldn’t have been able to cross otherwise. He knew that after the week together he couldn’t just leave here there, especially since she helped him finish second. So he began the lengthy process of adopting Gobi.

He started a Crowdfunder campaign to help with the costs, and it has already exceeded its goal. The process can take up to 4 months, and for now, Gobi remains in Urumqi and is being cared for by the Gobi March's local manager. Leonard hopes that his dog can join him in Scotland by Christmas time.

To get updates and to help with the costs, check out the Bring Gobi Home campaign.

Dion and Gobi. Photo: Courtesy of 4 Deserts

Dion and Gobi. Photo: Courtesy of 4 Deserts

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