A stray pup accompanied an ultramarathon runner across four stages of a 250km desert race
An Australian ultramarathon runner has launched a crowdfunding campaign to reunite him with a stray dog he met in the Gobi Desert last month.
Dion Leonard was competing in the 250km 'Gobi Desert March' in China. The race see competitors run 250km over seven days in gruelling conditions.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Leonard said he first noticed the dog running alongside a group of American runners on the first day of the race.
Not thinking she would last long with the pace, he was surprised to see her trot up beside him at the start line on the second day.
"This little dog’s sort of sitting next to me, looking up like, ‘Are we going to run together today?'" he told The Washington Post.
"I didn’t really think that much of it. I thought, let’s see how long this dog lasts."
The dog quickly became the star of the Gobi Desert March as she accompanied Leonard through four stages of the race, snuggling up beside him at night.
Leonard said that everyone from the competitors, volunteers and race crew fell in love with this little dog nicknamed Gobi.
During the race the ultra distance runner said he had to make small allowances to ensure Gobi's safety and completion of the stages she ran.
"I carried her across rivers and over sluice gates she could not cross on her own," Leonard explained.
"Gobi rested on Day 4 and Day 5 due to the heat of the desert but waited for him at the finish line and I knew then this was no ordinary dog and experience."
After the race, Dion Leonard began looking into what was involved in bringing Gobi back to Scotland, where he lives.
The process could take up to four months due to medical check and quarantine, with the cost coming close to £5000.
Leonard launched an online donation page that has already raised £17,000 - over three times the target. He said all leftover money will be donated to dog shelters.
You can keep up to date with the campaign on Facebook or on Dion Leonard's Twitter.
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