GRIT and determination


How do you prepare to trek 26 miles per day for 25 consecutive days over 965km of rugged, mountainous terrain and 131,000ft of climbing?

The answer truly isn’t that far from home, as local man Donovan Artz found out when he took on the immense challenge of trekking across the Pyrenees from the Atlantic Ocean at Cabo De Higuer to the Mediterranean Sea at Cabo De Creus in August and September.

In Donovan’s words, GRIT (group interval training) classes at Rugeley Leisure Centre provided the best training for his mammoth task, thanks to the high intensity and expert help.

“For 25 days I crossed the Iberian Peninsula, via the Pyrenees mountains, on foot, carrying a 12kg pack.  I jogged through Spanish villages, scrambled over mountain passes, navigated boulder fields and traversed high alpine valleys.

“Most nights were spent wild-camping in the mountains, drinking from natural springs and eating dried sausages and cheese from the occasional farm along the way.  From the ocean to the sea the trek was defined by incredible scenery, sparking pure mountain lakes, majestic fauna and exotic flora, intense sun and immense thunderstorms, but more importantly a genuine sense of freedom only found in the outdoors.

“The key to being happy and successful along the way was having the necessary fitness levels. Endurance was a big part, but so was strength, and the confidence that comes from challenging yourself and pushing through things you find most difficult.

“Many of us can drag ourselves out of the door for a run or bike ride, but it’s the resources at Rugeley Leisure Centre that helped push me further than I could on my own.

“The morning GRIT classes provided an excellent overall high intensity burst and our GRIT coach (GRIT Dave) is an expert at pushing you just hard enough to take your fitness to the next level.  This helped me to make direct improvements in my abilities to climb and manoeuvre the adverse terrain in the Pyrenees.

“Boot camp sessions were essential and the variety in the classes was tremendous.  The classes always brought a few surprises to keep you both motivated and challenged.

“We’re so lucky to have such a fantastic and affordable resource in our community.  I’m a big fan of the centre and the effort the staff put in to make it an inviting and rewarding place to be.”

Donovan’s 600-mile journey may be a bit extreme for some, but his use of GRIT classes at his local leisure centre can be done by all – giving you a new way to keep fit… and who knows, maybe one day it will be you taking in the beauty and tranquillity of Donovan’s coast-to-coast challenge.