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Stray dog bonds with ultrarunner and joins him for much of 250K race

A stray dog, later named Gobi, joined an Australian ultramarathon runner for much of the 250K Gobi March in China in June (photo: 4 Deserts race series).

Dion Leonard

Australian Dion Leonard had an unlikely pacer at the Gobi March 2016, an ultramarathon in China, in mid-June. A stray dog named “Gobi,” named after the race and the Gobi desert where the run is held, ran alongside Leonard for much of the 250K, multi-stage race.

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It must have been love….& it's not over. Working on #BringGobiHome from @4deserts for Dion❤️❤️

A photo posted by Lucja Leonard (@runningdutchie) on

Leonard is now trying to adopt the canine after the two formed a strong bond during the event. Gobi joined Leonard midway through stage two of the six-stage race where temperatures can reach upwards of 50 C. Another competitor noticed Gobi during the first stage but the furry canine only got to know Leonard a day later.

The terrier proceeded to run alongside Leonard kilometre after kilometre and stayed with the ultrarunner at night. Leonard ensured that Gobi was well fed and hydrated and even carried the canine over water crossings on the race course. Gobi ended up running four stages including the final 10K of the race.

“I didn’t [adopt her], Gobi seemed to adopt me,” Leonard said. “The dog was more famous than anyone in the race. She was in everyone’s blogs and emails and was all over the race photos making her the star of the race.”

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The Gobi March is part of the 4 Deserts ultramarathon series and takes place in western China each June. The race’s six stages are run over a span of seven days. The race crosses the Tian Shan Mountains, one of the largest mountain ranges in Asia.

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Race organizers prevented Gobi from continuing if they saw the dog struggling, especially in the heat. It’s unclear how Gobi managed to find the race site as it was located several kilometres from the nearest town.

Some fantastic images from @4Deserts #gobimarch as we enjoy a rest day before the final push tomorrow!

A photo posted by Lucja Leonard (@runningdutchie) on

Gobi is currently staying with a friend of the race while Leonard goes through the adoption process of bringing Gobi to Edinburgh, Scotland where he is based.

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