Today’s story is about a small dog with a big heart. Before she was given a name, one stray dog roamed about the Gobi Desert in China, where extreme runners meet for part of the 4 Deserts Race Series every year. Described by some as the ‘ultimate test of human endurance,’ the event is now composed of four 250-kilometer footraces across deserts in Chile, China, Namibia, and Antarctica. Each of the races consist of six stages that spread across a period of seven days. Among this year’s participants was Dion Leonard, an Australian runner based in Edinburgh, Scotland. According to a feature by 4 Deserts, Leonard was in the middle of Stage 2 when he noticed a small dog gently biting at his bright yellow gaiters. He had seen the dog before roaming around the runners’ camp before, but it was only then that the two officially met. Leonard placed second and headed to his tent to rest, and his new friend, later named Gobi, followed along and plopped down beside him. They had developed a special bond, and there was no turning back. “I didn’t [adopt her], Gobi seemed to adopt me!” Leonard told 4 Deserts. Just like the runners at the camp, Gobi exhibited extreme endurance. While other dogs have participated in the race before, none have completed as many stages as she had nor did they run as fast. She completed about 125 kilometers in total. Continue reading for photos and details of Gobi, honorary mascot of the 4 Deserts Race Series and Dion Leonard’s new best friend.Founded in 2002 by Mary K Gadams, the 4 Deserts Race Series is one of the roughest challenges out there. Every year, competitors from across the globe travel to deserts in Chile, China, Namibia, and even Antarctica, depending on which races they’d like to participate in. It was in China’s Gobi Desert that Gobi first appeared, and she’s changed one competitor’s life forever.
The small dog had been seen around the desert and runners invited her into the camp. Although she’d been friendly with everyone, she decided to take a step further. On the second day, she ‘adopted’ Dion Leonard as her human by running alongside him mid-race. “I thought to myself this little dog isn’t going to last very long at my side as we raced off,” Leonard told The Dodo. “But she ended up running the whole day and 23 miles distance.”
After the race, the four-legged trooper followed Leonard into the camp and settled down beside him to rest. She was very well behaved and even protective of her human. Previously named Tinto, she was renamed Gobi.
Although she couldn’t run alongside Leonard on Days 4 and 5 due to weather conditions, Gobi race organizers offered her a spot at the finish line. She patiently waited for him there.
There was no way Gobi would miss out on the final race. She ran with Leonard and they completed the race together.
Who could part ways after such a special experience? Dion Leonard certainly couldn’t, and his running mates encouraged him to bring Gobi home to the UK. The extreme runner agreed and reached out to the community to raise £5,000 for the necessary medical, quarantine, and transportation costs. Supporters have generously contributed more than twice the amount. It looks like Gobi has found a permanent home at last.