ATHLETE WHO MET A STRAY DOG ON A MARATHON ACROSS THE GOBI DESERT WILL BRING THE POOCH HOME




While most dogs would be happy to go out for a walk, Gobi the dog competed in a 250km (155 mile) ultra-marathon in China.
During the race across the Gobi desert in June this year, she struck up an unlikely friendship with 41-year-old competitor Dion Leonard.
Now the athlete has started a campaign to bring the adorable pooch back to his home in Edinburgh.
During the race across the Gobi desert in June this year, a stray dog struck up an unlikely friendship with 41-year-old competitor Dion Leonard (pictured)
During the race across the Gobi desert in June this year, a stray dog struck up an unlikely friendship with 41-year-old competitor Dion Leonard (pictured)
The adorable pooch raced alongside competitors in four of the six stage race despite the blistering heat
The adorable pooch raced alongside competitors in four of the six stage race despite the blistering heat
 According to Leonard, she looked and behaved like a puppy and is only about 18 months old
 According to Leonard, she looked and behaved like a puppy and is only about 18 months old
Mr Leonard travelled to China to compete in the Gobi March, part of the 4 Deserts race, for the first time this year.
He told MailOnline Travel that he spotted the stray dog around the camp before the six stage seven day race started.
And on the first day, she started running after the athletes.
She had been named Tinto by a group of American runners before being renamed Gobi. 
Leonard told MailOnline Travel: ‘Gobi joined us from the start on the cooler side of Tian Shan range and ran with us as we went over to the Black Gobi Desert.’
According to Leonard, she looked and behaved like a puppy and is only about 18 months old.
As the athletes progressed through the race, she started following Leonard and they raced together.
While the athletes rested, Gobi rested alongside them. She wasn't allowed to run stages four and five of the race as it would have been too hot
While the athletes rested, Gobi rested alongside them. She wasn’t allowed to run stages four and five of the race as it would have been too hot
According to Leonard, temperatures in the desert reached 52 degrees Celsius during the day
According to Leonard, temperatures in the desert reached 52 degrees Celsius during the day
Over the space of a week, the dog raced through four of the six stages in the race.
Leonard recalled that at one point, he was forced to carry Gobi across a stretch of river as it was too wide for her.
It was then that he felt there was a real bond between the two of them. 
The race teams prevented her from running the fourth and fifth stages of the race across the desert, where temperatures reached 52 degrees Celsius.
However, she completed the final stage of the race with the other athletes.
Leonard himself finished second in the gruelling race, where 101 other runners competed. 
Leonard himself finished second in the gruelling race, where 101 other runners competed
Leonard himself finished second in the gruelling race, where 101 other runners competed
Overall, Gobi ran some 126km (78 miles) over the space of a week.
After the race ended, Leonard called his wife straight away and discussed the possibility of bringing the dog home.
But it’s a long process as Gobi needs to be picked up from Urumqi, where she’s currently being cared for by a local race fixer, to Beijing, where she needs to be quarantined for several months before she’s allowed to travel.
Then, when she arrives in the UK, she will have to be quarantined again for health checks before she can finally join Leonard and his wife in Scotland. 
Despite this, Leonard is very excited about the prospect.
Gobi became a hit with the competitors. After the race ended, Leonard called his wife straight away and discussed the possibility of bringing the dog home
Gobi became a hit with the competitors. After the race ended, Leonard called his wife straight away and discussed the possibility of bringing the dog home
He told MailOnline Travel: ‘She really liked the cold weather of the Tian Shan mountain. She didn’t like the heat much, so she’ll be right at home in Edinburgh.’ 
Leonard launched a crowdfunding campaign on July 27 to raise money to bring Gobi to the UK.
His £5,000 target was fully funded within 24 hours and now he plans to donate the surplus to a dog home charity.
An agency who can help with the lengthy paperwork in China has also been found.
Now, Leonard has to wait six months or so before he can be reunited with his canine friend. 
Now, Leonard has to wait six months or so before he can be reunited with his canine friend
Now, Leonard has to wait six months or so before he can be reunited with his canine friend
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