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A dog named Cactus wandered off from his home and decided to run an ultramarathon through the desert

Business Insider logo Business Insider 4/12/2019 Tyler Lauletta
a man and a dog on a beach © Marathon Des Sables / Facebook
  • A dog named Cactus ran alongside one of the most grueling ultramarathons on the planet.
  • Cactus joined the race on its second day after wandering into some runners and following them until the end of the stage.
  • Upon hearing of his whereabouts, his caretaker Karen Hadfield said that Cactus loved to run and encouraged him to finish the race, saying, "I miss him but he's having fun."
  • Cactus was cared for regularly throughout the race, and after making it across the finish line, awarded a medal.
  • Visit for more stories.

A dog named Cactus impressed the running world this week after he completed an ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert.

The dog found himself amongst runners during the second leg of the Marathon des Sables on Monday and decided to join them for the journey. The event is known as a grueling ultramarathon, pitting runners against the elements as they race more than 140 miles across the desert.

Read more: The Marathon des Sables, a 160-mile race through the Sahara dubbed 'The Toughest Footrace on Earth,' is taking place right now. Here's what it's like to take part.

According to the New York Times, Cactus was welcomed by those in the race, sleeping with the runners and event organizers in tents set up along the route, regularly tended to with food and water, and even checked in on by medical professionals to make sure he didn't get blisters on his paws.

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A post shared by MARATHON DES SABLES (@marathondessables) on Apr 9, 2019 at 11:18am PDT

Cactus' shining moment came during Wednesday's 47.4-mile stage. He completed in just 11 hours 15 minutes, which according to the Times, placed him an impressive 76th compared to the 800 human competitors in the race.

Others racers were in awe of Cactus' endurance. "That dog was a beast; he ran right past me and I couldn't keep up," said Theo Holzapfel, according to the New York Times. "I kept following his footprints; I figured he knew where the hard sand was."

As word spread of Cactus' run, Karen Hadfield, the owner of Cafe Tissardmine where the dog usually calls home, commented on the race's Facebook post that this was not out of the ordinary, and that she would pick him up when he was done, but encouraged them to let him finish the race, as he apparently loves to run.

"I am the owner and was told he had left the camp yesterday... If I can pick him up I will but I also know he's having the greatest time so please people let me know where he is now and where you are heading tomorrow... I miss him but he's having fun. He is a nomad dog and often travels 40 Km a day around this area...just for fun. Please look after him and get him home..."

Eventually, Cactus was made something of an honorary entrant into the race and even received a medal after crossing the finish line.

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A post shared by MARATHON DES SABLES (@marathondessables) on Apr 12, 2019 at 8:40am PDT

You can watch highlights from Cactus' run through the race below.

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