A dog, appropriately named Gobi, became the unlikely star of this year's Gobi March, a 155 mile ultra-marathon in China over the Tian Shan mountains in June. The little stray attached herself to Dion Leonard, a 41-year-old runner, during the second stage of the race, and the pair were quickly inseparable.
Dion told The Independent, "At the start of day two, Gobi was on the start line next to me looking up at me.
"This was the first contact I had with her and as I ran off the line I noticed her by my side.
"I didn't speak much to her that day thinking she wouldn't stay with me, but at the finish line she followed me into the tent and we slept next to each other. That was it then."
Over the week, Gobi competed in four of the six final stages, with officials stepping in to prevent her from running when temperatures reached 52 degrees celsius. Dion even had to carry her over a particularly wide stretch of water. But Gobi was undeterred and finished the last leg with 101 other athletes, with Dion coming in an impressive second place.
Dion now hopes to bring Gobi back to his native Edinburgh, and has smashed his fundraising target of £5000 to do it. Importing a dog from China is an expensive and lengthy process, and he is unlikely to be reunited with Gobi for another six months. Any money raised and leftover will be donated to a dog charity.
"Everyone from the competitors, volunteers and race crew fell in love with this little dog that captured all our hearts" Dion wrote on Gobi's Crowdfunder page.
"Gobi took a shine to me and over the week we developed an unbreakable bond as I shared my sleeping space, food/water and ultimately our companionship."
Featured image via 4Deserts.com/Omni Cai