Former non-league star Mark Wright gears up for ANOTHER crack at the London Marathon – but how will he measure against footballers' fastest marathon times?

Mark Wright
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mark Wright may be best known for his appearances on the likes of The Only Way Is Essex, I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here and Strictly Come Dancing – but the reality TV star also has a long history as a semi-professional footballer.

Wright spent time in the academies of Premier League clubs West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham, before a journeyman career with 12 clubs in non-league, including Lewes, Crawley Town and Bishop Stortford.

He came out of retirement in late 2020 to make his first-ever professional appearance for Crawley in a 3-0 FA Cup victory over Leeds in January 2021, and even got an EFL match under his belt in their League Two campaign that season.

Now he's firmly focussed on marathon running, though, having taken on the 2021 London Marathon last October. And this weekend, he's back for more, aiming for a personal best time of three-and-a-half hours.

Not content with doing it himself, the former footballer has also roped in his brother Josh – himself a player with Ebbsfleet United – as well as his mum and dad to take on the route too.

This year he's running the race with Flora, as part of their Making Healthy Switches campaign, encouraging people to make small fitness and nutritional choices in their lifestyles that can improve their health and happiness.

"I was so inspired at last year’s marathon, that when Flora asked me to come and be an ambassador once again, it was an absolute no brainer," Wright said. "I had to get my brother involved this year and to rope Mum and Dad in to making this healthy switch, too.

"The marathon, and training for it, had such a positive impact on my physical and mental health. And, Flora’s mission to inspire others to make healthy switches really resonates with me too.”

If Wright does hit his three-and-a-half hour target, how will it stack up against other footballers who have taken on the 26.2 mile challenge?

Luis Enrique

Spain coach Luis Enrique celebrates during his side's 7-0 win over Costa Rica at the 2022 World Cup.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Luis Enrique has been heavily linked with the vacant Chelsea managerial job, having previously coached Barcelona and the Spanish national team.

But in his spare time, the former footballer is also a talented amateur endurance athlete.

He has several marathons under his belt, including New York, Amsterdam and Florence – finishing the latter in just two hours, 57 minutes and 58 seconds in 2007.

His greatest achievement (2015 treble aside) might be completing the Marathon des Sables in 2008 – a 250-kilometre ultra marathon. He dusted that off in a mere 41 hours, 14 minute and 43 seconds.

Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben, Rotterdam Marathon

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben only retired from football in 2021 – having come out of retirement to play for his boyhood club Groningen.

Since then, the 39-year-old has clocked up two marathons – completing the Rotterdam Marathon earlier this month in an astonishing two hours and 58 minutes.

"I'm really broken, but I made it," Robben told NOS after finishing. "This comes very close to winning a great football title. Awesome, I can check this one off."


Raul Gonzalez of Real Madrid celebrates scoring his goal and Madrid's third (3-0)

(Image credit: Mark Leech/Getty Images)

Real Madrid legend Raul has a couple of marathons under his belt, taking on both the New York and – of course – the Madrid races.

Unsurprisingly, the home support he received in Spain spurred him on to his own best time, two hours, 59 minutes and 25 seconds.

Christian Dailly

Christian Dailly, West Ham

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Scotland international Christian Dailly was a mainstay of West Ham's defence during the 2000s, but none of us expected him to have the fastest marathon time of any British footballer we could find.

He completed the London Marathon in 2013 in a time of three hours, six minutes and 26 seconds.

Kevin Kilbane

Kevin Kilbane, ireland

(Image credit: getty Images)

Kevin Kilbane was a Premier League regular in the 2000s, with the likes of Sunderland, Everton and Wigan.

He finally hung up his boots in 2012, and used his footballing fitness to run the London Marathon a year later in three hours, 14 minutes and 44 seconds.

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Conor Pope
Online Editor

Conor Pope is the former Online Editor of FourFourTwo, overseeing all digital content. He plays football regularly, and has a large, discerning and ever-growing collection of football shirts from around the world.

He supports Blackburn Rovers and holds a season ticket with south London non-league side Dulwich Hamlet. His main football passions include Tugay, the San Siro and only using a winter ball when it snows.