The last thing extreme marathoner Dion Leonard expected when he started the Gobi March, a seven-day race in China, was to find a new best friend.
But that's exactly what he got.
On day two, the stray dog chose Leonard as her new running buddy. Leonard soon aptly named the dog Gobi. He watched in awe and amusement as Gobi ran by his side for 25 miles. When Leonard reached camp, Gobi was right there with him curling up by his side as if to say, "mine."
Leonard and the race organizers did not want Gobi to run through the Black Gobi desert fearing the punishing terrain and extreme temperatures (around 125 degrees Fahrenheit) would be too much for her.
So, race organizers transported Gobi to the finishes of stages four and five. She waited patiently for Leonard to arrive at the finish line each time, and ran to greet him as he did.
Gobi ran alongside Leonard for stage six. In total, she ran four of the race's six stages; a distance of about 78 miles (out of 125 total miles).
When Leonard finished the race, he and his wife immediately began to research what it would take to bring Gobi home to Scotland. They found out that it would take about four months and cost thousands of dollars. There would be multiple medical exams, quarantine periods, and piles of paperwork in China and Scotland; but they weren't deterred. With the help of a Bring Gobi Home campaign on Crowdfunder, Gobi's $6,700 trip home was fully funded within 24 hours.
As of early August, Leonard has raised twice the amount required to bring Gobi to Scotland. He hopes to have her home by Christmas.
All photos courtesy of Bring Gobi Home/Crowdfunder