Agile Working – Active People: Gary Hobbs

Creating an agile, active workplace is more important than ever.

Especially since recent research by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) found that a third of people in the UK had taken at least one day off work due to back or neck pain in the past year.

Businesses need to ensure that their office design and company culture are such that they are encouraging staff to be as active as possible and help them to prevent the causes of back pain in the workplace.

Luckily, the team at Paramount have proved to be an active group of people.

We’ve already looked at John Williams’ boxing prowess and our next energetic member of staff shows just as much power and vitality, albeit outside the ring.

Gary Hobbs has already given us an insight into his daily working life as Commercial Manager at Paramount, but he’s about to prove that he’s a man of many talents.

Mine is a story of a mid-life crisis

I was always ‘vaguely’ active, whether it involved surfing, swimming or mountain biking, but in 2006, realising the big 4-0 was looming, I decided I’d have a go at running the London Marathon.

I submitted by ballot entry for the 2007 event only to be unsuccessful. Undeterred, I tried for the 2008, and failed, and again for the 2009, and failed. 

Fate was clearly telling me something! So in March 2009, I decided that if London didn’t want to see me suffer in a marathon, then maybe they’d like to see me suffer in a Triathlon.

London Triathlon 2018 - Source: mariecurie.org.uk

I entered the Sprint version of the London Triathlon, a 750m swim in the Docks, followed by a 20km bike ride and a 5km run.

Having never entered a sporting event before, I went into panic mode and entered a few low-key warm-up events. Now I’d caught the bug.

From Triathlons to Ironman

I completed the London Triathlon in June 2009. In July I upped the distance to Olympic (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run) and completed that. In August I increased again to ½ Ironman (1900m swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run) and completed that as well.

Buoyed with success, I thought 2010 would be a good time to have a go at a full Ironman (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run) so entered Ironman UK in Bolton and started training. 

2010 was spent swimming, biking and running almost every day, quite often twice a day.

4:30am starts weren’t uncommon to ensure that I could put in 7 hours on the bike and still be back for the family.

Event day came, all went well, and I crossed the finish line to hear the words “Gary Hobbs you are an Ironman”.  Leg was inked to mark the occasion in true Ironman style, and a new bug was caught.

From Ironman to Ultra-Marathons

Ironman taught me that I’m not a speed merchant, but I have good endurance and can’t hurt myself hour after hour at a slower pace.

I enjoy the mental challenge of continuing to push myself whilst maintaining my nutrition and hydration requirements on the move.

In the last 10 years I’ve now completed:

  • 8 full Ironman Triathlons (including 4 at Ironman Wales in Tenby, mooted to be the hardest race on the circuit)
  • 10 ½ Ironman Triathlons
  • 30 Sprint/Olympic triathlons
  • 22 Marathons
  • 4 Ultra-Marathons
  • 50+ bike events in excess of 100 miles

From Ultra-Marathons to the SAS

I completed 5 Ultra-Marathons and 3 Marathons in 2018, as well as attempting the SAS fitness Test Run over Pen y Fan, aka the Fan Dance, in January.

I completed within the time set and made a return in June to attempt the Fan Dance Double Tap; a Test Run on the Saturday morning, and then a repeat in the dark on the Saturday night. 

What’s next?

I’ve eased up slightly.

My workload is increasing and my motivation waning, but I still haven’t retired.

After successfully completing the Double Tap version of the SAS fitness test, I’ve bitten the bullet and in July 2019 I’ll be returning to Pen y Fan to attempt the Trident version.

The Fan Dance Trident is one of the most demanding challenges; three test runs, one Saturday morning, again Saturday night, and the final one on the Sunday morning. 


Look out for another Active People blog coming soon.

Fan Dance image source: thefandancerace.com photo by Guy Boden

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