Sometimes good ideas have a way of taking on a life of their own.
So it was when Brisbane-raised PE teacher Tim Oberg went for a jog with his dog Clarence on London's Wimbledon Common in 2010 and stumbled upon a local concept known as Parkrun.
Fast forward 11 years and he's CEO of wildly-successful Parkrun Australia, an organisation that has staged more than 82,000 events involving almost 715,000 participants, with almost 35,000 volunteers on its books.
During the past decade, Parkrun timekeepers have clicked their stopwatches an astounding 10,207,909 times at more than 420 finish lines across the country.
From humble beginnings at Main Beach on the Gold Coast, the notion of free organised fun runs in parks and other community spaces each Saturday for people of all ages and absolutely all abilities, has spread like wildfire.
New Farm in Brisbane came next, followed by Albert Park in Melbourne and then Sydney, by which time Oberg had given up his day job.
By his own admission, he was utterly clueless about what was to come when he first pulled on his trainers in the UK in 2010.
"I thought Parkrun was a great idea and Aussies would love it but all I had in mind was to find a way to get myself a job doing something else," he told AAP.
"I figured it would give me a great platform to grow my professional network and reputation but I never anticipated that Parkrun would become the job itself.
"I thought all I was doing was just setting up my own run."
He never contemplated the ways in which Parkrun would change lives. Its history is littered with success stories.
Take Launceston's Helen Eccles, who joined in 2013 and quickly roped in husband Tim and her three young children. This year they notched 1000 Parkruns as a family.
Fellow Tasmanian Paul Webb completed his first 5km outing after lap band surgery four years ago in a touch over 47 minutes. He's now a sub-30 minute runner, 80 kilograms lighter and an event director.
Sydneysider Kelly credits Parkrun with helping her recover from the social dislocation she went through as a result of long-term drug addiction. Since 2013, she's completed almost 300 events in more than 50 locations.
Neil Barnett lives with multiple sclerosis and hemochromatosis (iron overload), and last year had a mild heart attack. But they're setbacks which have made him more determined than ever.
The 57-year-old Queenslander has stopped the clock in more unique Parkrun locations than anyone in Australia since 2012. He completed his 400th event across 292 destinations in January.
New and different Parkrun courses are being mapped all the time: along Newcastle's sandy beaches; through the streets of Sydney's inner west at St Peters; among the vineyards in Queensland's Ocean View.
A 26-lap 5km deck circuit was launched aboard the HMAS Sirius in lieu of the crew's regular Saturday Parkrun in May. Runs are also staged at a number of corrections and juvenile justice centres.
For some, Parkrun has evolved from something healthy to do, to an experience they can't do without.
When Renee and Ned Pierce tied the knot in 2019, they decided on an early morning ceremony followed by a champagne breakfast and a 5km Parkrun in between.
Oberg reckons he's heard at least 20 similar stories over the past decade.
The real value of Parkrun is not in the run at all, he says.
"The physical activity is actually a tool to bring people together and it's that which makes the impact.
"Yes, they're getting healthier and fitter and that's brilliant but much more important is the friendships being made and the people who were once isolated coming together, volunteering, developing new skills and making a really positive contribution."
Australian Associated Press
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