4 Deserts Race Series (www.4deserts.com/gobimarch)
It was in the middle of Stage 2 of the Gobi March 2016 when Australian Dion Leonard noticed a small dog nipping at his yellow gaiters. Leonard, who is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, had seen the dog hanging around camp the night before and earlier that morning at the Stage 2 start line. But it was during the stage that Leonard and the dog – who would become known as Gobi – first got to know each other.
“Once we had begun the stage Gobi seemed to like the bright yellow colour of my gaiters and proceeded to run next to me,” said Leonard, who finished second in his first 4 Deserts race. “When she came into camp she followed me straight into my tent, laid down next to me and that was that – a bond had been developed.”
It was fellow Gobi March 2016 competitor Brendan Funk who was the first to notice Gobi on the opening stage of the race. “She saw me and just kept running,” Funk said. “First past the village, then over the dune and all the way to the end [of the stage]. I absolutely thought she would run off after a while, but every time she went ahead she would get about 15 metres in front, look at me and then either wait or circle back.”
After crossing the Stage 1 finish line, Gobi came into camp and never left. As the days went by, she quickly became the star of the race, with competitors sharing their carefully rationed food with the little dog and snapping plenty of photos with her. But it was Leonard who she stuck with the most.