It is far from unusual for a dog to win the hearts of humans, but normally it's not by completing one of the toughest foot races in the world.
The Marathon Des Sables is a notoriously taxing test of human endeavour, taking place over a 156 mile stretch of the Sahara Desert in Morocco. However, a doggo known as Cactus made it look like a bit of a doddle.
To be fair to his human competitors, he did skip the first stage, meaning he only clocked up about 140.7 miles, but his popularity grew throughout the competition.
He stormed the third stage, finishing 52nd out of around 800 runners with a time of four hours and 30 minutes.
He did it! Cactus ran the whole long stage of 76 km :open_mouth:
He is in a very good shape, has eaten, drunk, he keeps running everywhere in the camp :sweat_smile:#MDS2019 #MARATHONDESSABLES #CactusTheMdsDog pic.twitter.com/NJDo7ci6lD
- MARATHON DES SABLES (@marathonDsables) April 10, 2019
But he went on to really defy expectations the next day by completing the fourth stage, which is a whopping 53.5 miles. Even the added peril of a sandstorm couldn't stop Cactus, who managed to cover the distance in 11 hours and 15 minutes.
By the final stage, Cactus had become the main event: he was given official race number 000, a tracker so people could follow his progress and he had his own hashtag on Twitter.
He eventually crossed the line on Friday and evidently didn't feel inclined to go for a sprint finish. Still, he was awarded with an official medal by the event organisers.
I'm at the finish line of the @marathonDsables AND THE DOG FINISHED!! GO CACTUS!! :dog2:#CactusTheMdsDog @runnersworlduk #mdsmedia2019 #mds3019 pic.twitter.com/ros7NEOdum
- Susie Chan (@Susie__Chan) April 12, 2019
It turns out that Cactus was just the name given to the athletic doggo by his fellow desert racers, according to his Twitter account (yes, he has a Twitter account), his actual name is Mauricio Odio Truque Diggedy.
The account has been tweeting out a lot of dog pun-based tweets throughout the week and he closed the event in appropriate style.
Cactus is going home :medal::heart_eyes:
After joining the adventure of the 34th MDS, his owners came to bring him home :smiley:
It was an emotional moment, thank you for all the support :heart::blush:#MDS2019 #MARATHONDESSABLES #CactusTheMdsDog pic.twitter.com/nuPtjcR94o
- MARATHON DES SABLES (@marathonDsables) April 13, 2019
Having crossed the finish line, Cactus/Mauricio Odio Truque Diggedy/whoever runs his Twitter, tweeted: "So happy to be doing walkies with so many lovely people. Good luck to everyone still doing their walkies and remember anything is paw-sible."