Dion Leonard: Finding Gobi author to embark on 135-mile race across California for Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home

A seasoned ultramarathon runner and dog lover is to take on a gruelling 135-mile race across California in an effort to raise money for the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.

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Capital resident Dion Leonard, author of The Sunday Times bestseller, Finding Gobi, which documents his bond with a small stray dog, who tagged along for several days during an ultramarathon through China’s vast, forbidding Gobi desert.

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After running 77 miles together, Mr Leonard fell in love with the adventurous pup, named her Gobi and brought her back to his Edinburgh home.

Dion Leonard and Gobi racing together.
Dion Leonard and Gobi racing together.

Four years on from their incredible meeting the endurance athlete is taking on his biggest challenge yet, running The Badwater 135, a gruelling 135-mile race in California, USA.

All funds raised will go to Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, which works to rescue, reunite and rehome stray, lost and abandoned dogs and cats throughout the East of Scotland.

The race, which is considered one of the world's most extreme ultramarathons, starts on July 19 and will see Mr Leonard battle through deserts with scorching temperatures, and across three mountain ranges as high as 8,360 feet.

Starting in Death Valley the non-stop race will finish at Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada, with an elevation of 14,505 feet.

Battling through temperatures ranging from 38C to 53C, Mr Leonard will run along the asphalt road, which has been known to cause runners shoes to melt and their feet to burn.

This could well be my toughest challenge to date

“I’m excited to be running this iconic race and hope to reach the finish line in or around the 30 hour mark still in one piece.” he said.

“The heat out in Death Valley is no joke and I am under no illusion that this could well be my toughest challenge to date.”

Gobi and Mr Leonard have both been made Animal Champions at the city’s animal shelter, to thank them for their fundraising efforts.

“My values align perfectly with Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home” said Mr Leonard. “And I have been a proud supporter and campaigner for the Home since 2017.”

The Craigentinny based charity is “thrilled” to have the support of the pair.

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home CEO, Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine, said: “We are thrilled to have Dion, and his gorgeous dog Gobi, as our Animal Champions and there seems to be no limits to the lengths he is ready to go to help support our cause.

“The Home relies on donations to fund its vital work, and those raised by Dion in this incredible challenge will go a long way to help us care for the hundreds of unwanted pets that reach our door each year.

“Gobi’s story is one of incredible love and resilience, qualities that we see in our resident dogs and cats, who are still waiting for their forever homes. We are so grateful to Dion for shining this light on them, and we wish him the very best of luck in this exciting race.”

To support the challenge, please donate HERE.

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