The Incredible Jessica Gomez Fronts Our July 2021 Issue

As the old saying goes, anything worth having in life lies just outside your comfort zone. And on a recent bucket-list trip to the Northern Territory, I yet again found one of Instagram’s most popular mantras to be utterly true.

For any endurance lover, the epic Larapinta Trail is a must-do. Spanning 230km of ancient landscape, the trail features rugged tracks and spectacular views. So when one of my dearest friends launched a female-focused adventure platform, Her Trails, and invited me to join a week-long escape to experience it, I couldn’t have said yes faster.

As regular readers of this column would know, I consider myself relatively fit. I train (hard) five days a week and regularly push past my mental and physical limits. I’ve run half-marathons. Done a 31-hour non-stop relay. And various other crazy fitness pursuits. But to cut a long story short, the Larapinta Trail broke me down, in the best possible way.

Day one was hard, sure, but manageable, trekking 26km from Telegraph Station to Simpsons Gap. But less than 30 minutes into day two, hiking straight up the side of a mountain for a good few kilometres in 30 degree heat, I started to doubt myself. The various random thoughts in my head went something like this:

“If I train this hard, why am I finding this so difficult? Everyone else seems to be crushing it, what’s wrong with me? I’m slowing down the group, there’s no way I’m going to be able to finish this.” 

Then I looked down a sheer drop on one of the trickier sections, and panic set in. But rather than try to hide the tears and panicked breathing, I stopped. I let my guard down and confessed to the two team mates behind me that I was having a minor freak-out – and they couldn’t have been more supportive. All I could hear were the calls of encouragement from higher up on the ridge, as I took a moment to collect myself and kept on going, one foot in front of the other, for another five hours.

When I finally stepped into the 4WD at the end of a long, amazing day – having hiked one of the most beautiful trails in Australia – I felt a feeling of solidarity, strength and achievement that was worth any amount of terror.

As this month’s cover star – model, actor and all-round legend Jessica Gomes – very wisely says in our interview from page 78 (having returned to Australia from the US for the first time in a decade), there’s an immense power in opening up and being vulnerable. And, if you ask me, that’s something we should all embrace more often. 

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy all of the health, fitness and female empowerment inside this issue.

The July issue hits newsstands June 7.

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