You never know when a cute stray dog would decide to adopt you as her human. It was approximately 20 miles into a grueling 155-mile cross-country race for extreme marathon runner Dion Leonard.
It all started during the 4 Deserts Gobi March 2016, a 6-day foot race in China’s biggest desert, this summer. Leonard was one of 101 human competitors, but he was soon joined by another type of competitor.
A little homeless dog residing near the start line of the first day’s marathon chose to join in the fun, trotting among the other runners for the first 22 miles. Back at the runners’ camp, Leonard had observed the puppy, but he had no idea she’d be in it for the long haul.
She was also seeking for a racing companion, as it turned out.
“On Day 2, I was at the race stage’s starting line, and she was standing next to me, staring up at me,” Leonard told The Dodo. “As we raced out, I thought to myself, this small dog isn’t going to stay long by my side, but she ended up running the entire day and 23 miles.”
The dog refused to leave Leonard’s side even after crossing the finish line and settling into camp. They were inseparable from then on, and Leonard chose to call his new pet Gobi.
The third day was no different. The hitherto hated dog raced behind her for the whole 26-mile distance, this time with Leonard by her side.
“For such a small dog, Gobi has a large heart and a lot of speed,” Leonard added.
Gobi had to sit out Days 4 and 5 due to the weather being too severe for her to participate. Instead, race organizers gave her a ride to the finish line so she could be there to welcome Leonard when he arrived.
She was back in the race on the sixth and final day, racing beside Leonard until they crossed the finish line together.