What It Takes To...
Be a man’s best friend; and take up a challenge
When Dion Leonard, 41, took on the multi-day, 250km Gobi March ultra in June, he found himself a most unusual running buddy. A pint-sized stray dog took a shine to Dion’s yellow gaiters on day one, running alongside him and accompanying him into the camp. The little terrier – whom Dion christened Gobi – soon captured the hearts of everyone involved in the race – other competitors, crew and volunteers – but a special bond formed between dog and Dion. ‘She seemed to choose me,’ says the ultra runner, who lives in Edinburgh. Dion shared his sleeping space, food and water with Gobi over the next six days, carrying her across rivers and other obstacles she was too small to tackle, and he still finished the race in second place. ‘By then I knew I couldn’t be parted from her and began to look into how I could get her back to Scotland,’ he says.
Dion estimated he’d need £5,000 to cover the medical fees and quarantine process, so he launched a crowdfunder campaign, ‘Bring Gobi Home’. Donations flooded in as word spread of the dog’s heroic antics. ‘I was amazed to hit the target so quickly,’ says Dion. The campaign has now collected more than £38,000. The surplus funds will be donated to dog rescue organisations once Gobi is safely in her new home in Edinburgh.