Three Minute Squiz With… Tim Oberg

Tim Oberg is the founder and CEO of parkrun Australia. He brought the concept to Oz from the UK in 2011, and since then it has grown to involve more than half a million registered runners who front up most weekends to complete a timed 5km in more than 350 local parks and parklands around the country. A committed Squizer, we put our joggers on to catch up with Tim for this week’s Three Minute Squiz.

How and where do you Squiz?
Typically I don’t touch any technology until after we’ve got the kids ready for school, so I often have my first squiz of Squiz on my iPhone as I’m walking from school dropoff to my office.

Have you always been a runner?
No, not at all. In fact my sport of choice growing up was weightlifting (as in the Olympic version) which, as a power sport, was athletically about as far away from endurance running as one can get.

What was it about parkrun that you thought would work in Australia when you saw it in the UK?
I was attracted to parkrun due to the dog-friendly nature of the event (each person is allowed to participate with one dog on a short lead). And when I first turned up there were also people pushing prams, people of all ages, sizes and abilities… you name it, they were there. So it was this almost unheard of level of inclusiveness that I believed Aussies would relate to.

How did you feel when you got your first event up and running (pun intended…)?
Relief of course, however, that soon became determination to see parkrun grow across the country.

And now it’s all over Australia – congrats! What’s the most unlikely place you’d find a parkrun?
We recently launched inside two prisons: Dhurringile in Victoria and Mobilong in South Australia. However, to be fair, let’s hope these will never be visited by our fellow Squizers. In contrast, we have a brilliant event on Hamilton Island that’s been running since 2015 and is definitely a unique parkrunning experience.

When you’re not doing that, what are you focused on?
From a fitness perspective, I CrossFit three times per week, however, the bulk of my time is spent being a husband to Nicci and father to Jack (6yo), Evie (5yo) and Archie (2yo).

Name four people – living or dead – you’d kill to sit down to dinner with.
Laird Hamilton, Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackman and The Queen (can you imagine the stories old Lizzy would have?).

Your favourite book/writer?
I mainly read non-fiction and wouldn’t say I have a favourite author. However, like millions of Aussies, Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor has been very influential in helping me organise my finances over the last few years. Yep, that’s an orange ING card in my wallet!

Favourite meal at your favourite restaurant?
Every Saturday after parkrun we get a ‘Muscle Repairer’ smoothie bowl from Bohemian Raw Cafe here in Airlie Beach where I live. It’s healthy but tastes so naughty!

The best piece of advice your parents gave you?
Although my parents weren’t really ‘advice givers’, through observation they have instilled in me the importance of kindness and empathy and these are traits that I try and live by every day.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
After quickly googling ‘what is a virtue?’ and being referred to Aristotle, I’d say that ‘magnificence’ seems a little self-indulgent!

What’s your worst and best habit?
My best habit is definitely getting up early to train. It’s the best way to start the day and means I can then focus on family and work for the remainder. I asked my wife what my worst habit is. Her response was – “Hmmm, which one should we choose? You’re a fiddler, and you like to throw things away without consulting me first.” She’s referring to my minimalist approach to owning and hanging onto ‘stuff’.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story Australians should know about but don’t?
As I lived in the UK for 10 years, I still keep a close eye on both UK and global news. Obviously, Brexit is the number one news story coming out of the UK, however, I’m not sure the average Aussie really understands it or is that bothered by it (Squizers are the exception of course). Closer to home, my first instinct is to say that all Australians should take more interest in Indigenous affairs, in particular in finding solutions to help close the gap with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. I genuinely hope that in the years ahead parkrun can play a small role in helping with this.

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