A small stray dog has won everybody’s hearts after she ran alongside a marathon runner on a demanding one-week race. The ultra marathon, which totals an astounding 155 miles over the course of an entire week, took place throughout the vast Gobi Desert that covers parts of northern China and southern Mongolia.
Dion Leonard, a Scottish runner, initially noticed the beige dog jogging near a group of American runners on the first day of the marathon, but didn’t think much of it. It came to him as a surprise when he noticed the now aptly named Gobi pup waiting for him at the starting line on the second day.
The dog managed to keep up with Leonard throughout all 23 miles that were scheduled for the second day, at times even speeding far ahead of him. Whenever Gobi got tired, Leonard would give her some of his own water and beef jerky to keep her going. It is quite strange and unclear how Gobi managed to show up to the ultra marathon in the first place, specially noting that even the nearest village to the desert was several miles away.
After the second day, Gobi slept alongside Leonard in his camp site, cuddling and looking for some much-deserved attention. Leonard wasn’t sure why Gobi only ran alongside him, telling the Washington Post, “I didn’t do anything in particular to gain her attention. She chose me. I was the one that she was going to stick to.” There were another 101 competitors at the ultra marathon.
Day 3 of the race covered some grueling terrain, much of which Gobi was able to withstand. While crossing multiple rivers however, Gobi was picked up by Leonard and carried, despite the water reaching up all the way to Leonard’s stomach. Leonard and the event organizers estimated that Gobi trekked approximately 105 miles of the total 155 miles of the ultra marathon throughout the days she was able to participate – she wasn’t allowed to run on Days 4 and 5 due to the severe heat that rose up to 125 degrees fahrenheit and was, instead, driven to the finish lines with the organizers.
Leonard was understandibly extremely tired after the 80-kilometer race scheduled for Day 5, but was excited to meet up with Gobi again. “To come in to the finish line and to see her wagging her tail…was just amazing.”Leonard ultimately won second place at the ultra marathon and received a medal for his outstanding efforts. The event organizers also managed to produce a matching medal for Gobi at the end of the marathon. Leonard, who is a resident of Edinburgh, is still going through the long process of taking Gobi back to the United Kingdom with him and his family. There is still a lot of paperwork, medical examinations and quarantines to go, but Gobi is expected to join his newfound family and home sometime before Christmas.