This text initially appeared on Individuals.com.
Ultramarathon runner Dion Leonard got here to the world’s consideration after he determined to undertake a stray canine, Gobi, whom he met throughout a 7-day marathon within the Chinese language Gobi Desert. In his new memoir, Discovering Gobi: The Superb True Story, the Australian reveals how his personal painful previous impressed him to assist the small-but-resilient canine and the way troublesome it was to carry her residence to Scotland.
“It was destiny when Gobi and I met the primary time round,” the 41-year-old tells PEOPLE solely. “You’re doing a race that’s extremely troublesome… [Gobi] was a little bit of calm, she was there to assist me out.”
After the 250-km race (of which she ran 126 km with him) in June 2016, he vowed to discover a option to carry her residence. He left her in China with a short lived caretaker. When she went lacking he flew again to prepare a search social gathering.
“I didn’t wish to let her down like I’d been let down,” he says.
Leonard finally recovered Gobi (with the assistance of volunteers and in depth information protection) and introduced her residence after 4 months of dwelling collectively in Beijing (so Gobi wouldn’t must face quarantine alone).
However their journey residence was far more troublesome than it appeared in information headlines, as Leonard reveals in his e-book. 20th Century Fox plans on adapting Discovering Gobi into a movie.
Based on Leonard, probably the most troublesome sections to put in writing have been those concerning the losses throughout his childhood — experiences that later impressed him to provide Gobi a house.
After his stepfather’s dying, Leonard’s relationship together with his mom fell aside.
” ‘You’re nugatory,’ ” he recollects her saying to him in Discovering Gobi. ” ‘I want I’d by no means had you … You’re the error in my life … I hate you.'”
He writes that when he was 14 she began locking him downstairs at night time so he was utterly separated from the remainder of the household. A yr later he left residence to reside with a good friend in a hostel.
“I suppose if I stayed there, goodness is aware of what would have occurred and the place I’d have ended up — whether or not it could have been medication or alcohol,” he mentioned. “I had nobody serving to me, nobody stood as much as information me in the suitable route. After I noticed Gobi I might see that somebody wanted to step up and be that individual. That’s what I wished to be.”
Leonard might have wished to provide Gobi a greater life, however many forces have been in opposition to him. Within the e-book, he touches on questions surrounding Gobi’s disappearance (most of which stay unanswered) and divulges that his search group acquired a whole lot of threats a day (which he solely about realized later). Some threatened to kill Gobi in the event that they weren’t paid, whereas others mentioned they’d already killed her.
“There’ll all the time be people who find themselves slightly bit deceiving and wish to generate income out of those tales,” Leonard mentioned. “That’s upsetting. It takes away from what’s an incredible story that everybody shared collectively.”
Whereas Discovering Gobi outlines the battle and worry that Leonard and Gobi went by means of, ultimately it’s a story of hope. And one which’s serving to different animals.
“We’ve truly seen in all probability 50-ish emails from individuals,” mentioned Leonard, “saying they’ve gone to their shelter and brought a rescue canine residence, or individuals who have gone out and fed stray canine.”
Leonard received’t be bringing Gobi on the ultramarathon he plans on working within the Peruvian desert later this yr, however he has organized a 2-km run (Jog with Gobi) to lift cash for a neighborhood Edinburgh shelter. He additionally plans on donating a few of the proceeds of his e-book to charity.
His most quick plans, nonetheless, are to spend time with Lucja, their cat, and Gobi.
“There’s a fantastic photograph I took of Gobi yesterday,” he mentioned. “We have been strolling and there have been some poppy flowers. She’s acquired this stunning, tacky grin on her face. You possibly can inform that she’s dwelling the dream.”
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