Finding Gobi changed everything
ON DAY three of a 250km race across the Gobi Desert in China, Warwick ultramarathon runner Dion Leonard made a choice that would change his life.
A small, stray dog took a liking to Mr Leonard on day two of the race, running with him side-by-side.
When the pup began to struggle the following day, Mr Leonard decided to help his new friend.
"I realised that winning the race wasn't the most important thing and that helping this little dog when she needed it the most was much more important," he said.
The pair forged a close bond, sleeping in the same tent and sharing food and water over the race.
Growing up in Warwick from the age of 7, Mr Leonard said he had a volatile upbringing and left home at an early age.
Finding Gobi gave Mr Leonard a new reason to push through the challenge of long-distance running.
"By helping Gobi I found that she was helping me to be able to deal with some of the negative things I used to complete these 250km races," he said.
"These six-stage/ seven-day races are just as much a mental challenge as physical and I guess Gobi was there for a reason."
But crossing the finish line was only half their battle for friendship.
Mr Leonard briefly left Gobi in China while he made arrangements to bring her to his home in Edinburgh, but she got lost.
After a huge search, she was very lucky to be found.
The plight of the pair captured the attention of the world last year, securing them book deals as well as a movie deal with 20th Century Fox.
"[Writing] Finding Gobi was one of the hardest things I've done but her finding me was one of the best," he said.
"There is so much more to the story than what's been in the press and you'll be shocked, surprised, laugh and cry at the full untold story in the book."
Last week the pair mingled with royalty, assisting Prince Edward to distribute Duke of Edinburgh awards.
Mr Leonard has been living outside Australia for the past 15 years, but says he still calls himself an Aussie at heart.
A trip to Warwick may be a bit tricky due to quarantine laws, but Mr Leonard said Gobi was settling in in Edinburgh.
Visit findinggobi.com or find the pair on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.