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Mark Wright runs for fun and he can’t wait for the Gloucester 10K

Gloucester > Sport > Running

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 12:00

Mark Wright Mark Wright

It’s often said that people run for fun and that would certainly appear to be very apt when talking about Mark Wright.

Except that Wright is actually a pretty serious runner too – anyone who has a marathon-best time of three hours, 38 minutes is clearly fairly decent.

He can run other distances as well and will be one of the many lining up for the Gloucester 10K on Sunday 19th May.

It will be his first big race in what is now his home city although he is by no means a novice runner, quite the opposite in fact because the 56-year-old has been involved in the sport for 20 years.

Wright has led a very interesting life.

Born in Liverpool, he moved to what was Rhodesia at the age of six before heading over the border to South Africa in the early 80s.

It was there that he developed his love of running and his enthusiasm for the sport is matched by his obvious enthusiasm for life.

“I ran a lot in South Africa, I started in 1999 and I’ve done about 50 marathons,” he said. “Running was popular over there, I lived in Durban and if anyone saw you running to the café, they’d ask ‘Have you run the Comrades?’”

For those who don’t know the Comrades Marathon is an ultra-marathon of about 55 miles which starts in Durban and takes competitors all the way to Pietermaritzburg.

It is the world’s largest and oldest ultra-marathon race and Wright has done it six times.

“It takes me 10 to 12 hours,” he laughed, “I wouldn’t say I run it, more like hobbled it!”

Ten or 12 hours is the time it takes to fly from South Africa to England, a journey that Wright made with his wife Sanette and their 18-month-old son just before Christmas.

“I’m English, and England has always been home,” he said with the broadest of South African accents.

“I was never really a local in Africa, at school I was always the English kid. I feel like I’m coming home, it’s just that nobody here speaks properly!”

His parents and brother moved back to this country a good number of years ago and they live in Bristol, just a short(ish) ultra-marathon from his new home in Abbeymead.

Wright is working in Gloucester as a quality compliance engineer, a job he insists isn’t as grand as it sounds.

“All I do is make tea for the guys, watch a few cars and clean a few desks,” he laughed.

He’s happy in his new role – he was making a cup of tea when The Local Answer called! – but he admitted that, initially at least, he found running in this country less enjoyable than in South Africa.

“The weather isn’t conducive to running,” he said when he spoke to The Local Answer in March. “It’s too cold in the morning and it’s pitch black at night.”

They were, quite literally, dark times for someone who likes to run so he joined a nearby gym where he got on the treadmill and ran five or six kilometres six days a week.

“I’d run for 30 to 35 minutes,” he said. “If you’re not doing 35 kilometres a week you’re not really a runner.”

Wright clearly is, so when the weather started to improve he got the urge to race again which is why he is now training for the Gloucester 10K.

“I was looking for a 21K,” he said, “but then I saw the 10K and it looks fantastic.”

He reckons he’ll run it in around 55 minutes maybe an hour “depending on the terrain and how many beers I’ve had!”

“I’m more of a social runner,” he continued, “I’m not a bullet, I’m not a speed king, I’ll be halfway to the back rather than anywhere near the front.”

We’ll find out whether that is true on 19th May, of course, but what we know for sure is that Wright has no intention of giving up running any time soon.

“I’d love to run the London Marathon,” he said. “I’ve run the New York and Stockholm marathons, I’ve run a marathon every year since 1999.”

He’s not yet run one in 2019, though, saying: “I’ve got to do some work first, I want to get over the line still breathing, I don’t want to be carried over on a stretcher!”

There’s not much chance of that. Even though he insists he’s “a plodder”, he clearly knows his way around a marathon course.

“I run now for the freedom it gives me, the vitality I feel in my heart as I plod along – a wonderful sense of accomplishment just getting over the finish line,” he said.

“Running makes me thank god daily for my health and strength. I would be miserable and lost without it, just ask both of my wives – ex and current!. As soon as I get crabby, they would say, ‘Go for a run, come back better!’”

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