Karl Tyrell, New Zealand's No 1 ranked international volleyball referee, is ready to put down his whistle and pursue his passion for triathlon when he competes in the Ironman 70.3 Auckland tomorrow.

The experienced international, who has officiated at World Championships and was recently appointed to the World League (an annual event contested by the world's top 28 men's teams), made his triathlon debut 25 years ago in his native city of Christchurch.

He was gripped by the sport from his first experience - especially after he was handed a cold can of beer as he crossed the finish line - and he later moved into Ironman after losing a bet. "I said to a friend if he ran a sub 2h 50m marathon I would enter an Ironman of his choice," he remembered. "He clocked 2h 47m and we entered Ironman NZ in 2006."

Unfortunately, the inclement weather meant the 2006 race was not competed over the full distance, but he returned 12 months later for the annual Ironman event at Taupo to complete the first of his five ironman races.

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Tyrell, who has also finished eight previous half-ironman races, believes his background as a volleyball referee and his ability to think clearly under high-pressure situations has transferred well to the world of ironman.

"Not everything always goes well on race day, so having the ability to think fast and make a decision when things aren't going so well and remembering to keep a level head are a must," he said.

His latest challenge will be a third crack at Ironman 70.3 Auckland - an event which holds multiple attractions for the 45-year-old - who completed the 2014 edition in 5h 29m.

"The event is extremely well run and the course is amazing," he said.

"The view of the city coming back over the Harbour Bridge is spectacular and the run course is flat and fast and lined with supporters.

"Combine that with the amazing selection of cafes for that pre-race coffee and the bars and restaurants for that post-race beverage, as an age-group triathlete it offers the complete experience."

ROTORUA DAILY POST
1 Jan, 2015 2:00pm
2 minutes to read

Meanwhile former Football Ferns winger Pip Meo believes no challenge is insurmountable - she is gunning for an age-group victory in her new passion.

Meo, who was capped six times for her country and once played against United States soccer icon Mia Hamm in front of 30,000 people, quit the sport after missing out a place in the New Zealand squad for the 2008 Olympics.

She was "devastated" to miss out on selection and sought a fresh challenge.

"I decided I needed to do a sport where if I was good I couldn't be ignored and I would be in complete control of how good I could be," said the 30-year-old.

"I watched the Olympics and triathlon popped up.

"I thought that sport looks extremely hard and no one is born naturally great at all three sports, it looks like you just have to work really hard; perfect."

Ironman 70.3 Ak

When:

Tomorrow

Where: Finish and Transition - Viaduct Event Centre

Course: Swim 1.9km from Maritime Museum, out at Karanga Steps, Viaduct Event Centre

Bike: 90km - long lap over Auckland Harbour Bridge to Albany and return, two short laps to St Heliers and return.

Run: 21.1km - two laps along waterfront to Parnell Baths

For more information: www.ironmanauckland.com