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Executive Diversion

Ad agency CEO says running makes her a better, more confident leader

Advertising executive Christine Turner started running in college to relieve stress. Now she’s conquering racecourses across the country, including mountainous trail runs.


  • By Brian Hartz
  • | 5:00 a.m. January 9, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Christine Turner has been long-distance running for years.
Christine Turner has been long-distance running for years.
Photo by Mark Wemple
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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Executive

Christine Turner, president and CEO of ChappellRoberts, a venerable branding and advertising agency based in Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighborhood. Turner joined the firm in 1998 and steadily rose through the ranks to become executive vice president in 2018 and then president in 2021. She was named CEO earlier this year. 


Diversion

Long-distance running. A soccer player in her formative years, Turner took up running while pursuing her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida in the late 1990s. “I started running as a way to get into shape and blow off some steam in college,” she says. “After I had my kids, I found that I needed [a fitness routine] that was quick and accessible. You can go running at 10 o’clock at night, you can go at five in the morning, you can go on your lunch break, and in a post-COVID world I have a lot of opportunities now.”

Medal ceremony: Turner boasts an impressive array of medals won at races around the country. She’s run in local events such as the annual Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic but her hobby has taken her much farther afield, including marquee races like the New York City Marathon and the Ragnar Relay Series, in which teams of six to 12 people run 200 miles in a span of about 36 hours. “I wouldn’t consider myself an elite athlete,” Turner says. “The competition is more for myself. But I’m happy to come in around five, five-plus hours. I think my last marathon was maybe 5:20.” 

That’s a 12-minute mile pace. Not bad for a non-elite runner. 

Training days: Turner runs in all different climates and elevations, including mountainous terrain in a three-day trail race in Colorado earlier this year. She says there’s no secret to preparing to go from running in flat Florida to thousands of feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains: It comes down to hard work, plain and simple. For the Colorado run, Turner enlisted the help of a coach she found online. “She’s a trail runner, and she told me that living in Florida is a great place to train because of the heat and humidity,” Turner says. 

The coach said Turner would be more prepared than someone from, say, the Midwest or Great Plains. “I felt that to be true,” she says. “I was very fit and able to move through the mountains without feeling like I was gasping for air. I know nothing that I'm doing here in Florida is going to be harder than what's coming for me in Colorado. So, the harder I can make it for myself here, I know it's going to pay me back in Colorado.”

Christine Turner has completed the New York Marathon.
Courtesy image

Runner's high: Competitive distance running has contributed to Turner’s professional success in several ways. “It builds up your confidence and stamina as a leader,” she says. “It helps you clear your head. There are meditative aspects to putting one foot in front of another to a rhythm over a certain time. It helps you reset. And it’s important for anybody to invest in themselves and their health.”

The parallels, according to Turner, don’t stop there. “There’s a tie back to real life,” she says. “As a CEO, you are going to be faced with challenges. I look at doing these races as practice for [facing] challenges and obstacles, making a plan, completing the plan, and coming out the other side successful.”

Gear up: One of the many advantages of running as a hobby is its affordability: You don’t need a lot of expensive gear, Turner says, but you should invest in high-quality equipment, particularly footwear and ensure the fit is correct. “Shoes are so key,” she says. “If you are a size eight and a half, don’t go to the running store and order a size eight and half, because you are a nine or a nine and a half in a running shoe. You need good shoes that fit you and are big enough for you to move around in.”

Turner recommends ASICS for road running and Saucony for trails. And she “doesn’t go anywhere” without her Aftershokz headphones, which use bone conductivity technology that allows them to be worn outside the ear instead of inside, allowing users to better hear sounds around them. “As a woman who runs in the early morning,” Turner says, “in the dark, by herself, I’m able to have music, audiobooks or podcasts playing to distract myself yet still feel like I have good awareness.”

 

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