Business News

60 seconds with: Gareth Turnbull, The Great Run Company

By Business & Finance
10 April 2018
Gareth Turnbull, Business Development Manager, The Great Run Company

Gareth Turnbull, Business Development Manager, The Great Run Company, takes on the Business & Finance 60-second interview challenge.

Q. What was your first job?

My first job was as a professional athlete mainly competing in 1500m, somewhat unusual for a young man of 17. This opened a lot of doors for me in the world of athletics, including getting my first shoe contract – which definitely beat a paper round! The memory of being sent my first kit drop from Adidas and the fact that I was actually getting paid a few pounds to wear such a great kit is still fresh in my mind. This was a real catalyst in helping me along my running journey and impacted how I felt about making a go of things as a full-time athlete.

Q. What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

I would say breaking the four-minute mile for the first time, but most others might say managing to find gainful employment after hanging up my spikes, and they are probably right! I have been involved in athletics since I was old enough to run and, after retiring from an international career representing Ireland in the 1500m, I have been lucky enough to be able to turn this passion into a full-time career. The Great Run events are an inspiring celebration of running, which welcomes all types of people, from elite athletes to first-time runners. There is such a buzz involved in taking part in a mass participation running event, and it’s a great achievement for me to be able to facilitate people of all ages and abilities to experience that unique feeling too.

Q. How do you define success?

Contentment, self-assurance and optimism.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My grandfather always said, “Spend the first 20 years of your life working out what you want to do with it, and then spend the next 45 working out a way to get paid for it”. And I can happily say that this is what I’ve done.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

Keep a positive spirit at all times because team spirit and cooperation will often prevent failure without anyone even noticing. And don’t keep score as we all have the same email address!

There are a number of parallels between success in the sporting and business worlds and I think fostering a common goal and vision of what success looks like is one such example.

Q. If you could step into the shoes of one business person for a day, who would it be and why?

I would like to step into the shoes of Ed Woodward, Chief Executive at my beloved Manchester United. I would love to see how he strikes a balance between success on the pitch and in the boardroom. The financial decisions he makes off the field can be just as important as the decisions made by the players on it, and that would be fascinating to experience first hand.

Q. How do you relax?

A day at the races at a quiet midweek fixture. Just me, several cups of tea and the Racing Post – total bliss!

Q. What’s your motto?

To borrow the slogan of a well-known telecommunications firm from some years ago, it would be to ‘work smarter, not harder’. I think time management is key and it’s a skill I hope I have taken from my running career and applied to my current role.

Q. What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

I’ve worked for the Great Run Company for the last five years but my passion truly lies with the Great Ireland Run. This year’s event takes place on 15 April in the Phoenix Park and I really want it to be the biggest and the best yet. We are creating 5k and 10k training plans making the run accessible to everyone, as well as mini events suitable for kids from three to 15 years old. I really hope that people get involved and see it as a fun way to spend time with their friends and family as they commit to getting off the couch and getting active for 2018.

Entry to the 10k costs €30, entry to the 5k costs €20 and entry to the mini events (1.5k and 2.9k) costs €10.

To enter online, please visit

My grandfather always said, “Spend the first 20 years of your life working out what you want to do with it, and then spend the next 45 working out a way to get paid for it”. And I can happily say that this is what I’ve done.

About Gareth:

Gareth Turnbull is the Business Development Manager for The Great Run Company and the Race Director of the Great Ireland Run. Gareth has had a distinguished international career in the 1500m which saw him represent Ireland at World and European Championship level, winning a bronze medal at the European Cross Country Championships and seven Irish national titles.

About The Great Ireland Run:

The 18th-annual Great Ireland Run, sponsored by technology brand Garmin, is one of Ireland’s leading sporting events, and part of the world’s biggest mass participation running series, The Great Run Company. The Great Ireland Run 2018 takes place in Phoenix Park on 15 April and welcomes runners of all ages and abilities, with a 10k and 5k option as well as junior events and fun activities for all the family to enjoy. The Great Ireland Run, which was established in 2001, is now one of Ireland’s leading athletic events, attracting all running abilities as well as top national and international talent.