New Zealand Law Society - Wellington lawyer to contest world ironman

Wellington lawyer to contest world ironman

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Wellington lawyer Sierra Ryland has won a spot in this year’s Ironman World Championship, to be held in Kona, Hawaii, on 8 October.

Ms Ryland qualified in the women’s 30-34 age group after finishing second to Auckland athlete Diana Simpson at the Ironman New Zealand Championship at Taupo on 5 March.

A senior associate at DAC Beachcroft, Mr Ryland was competing in only her third ironman contest.

Her introduction to the event came around four years ago when she and her husband entered the half ironman in Taupo.

“He wanted to do a challenge for himself, and each year I had been doing some sort of extreme off-road running race. I thought: ‘maybe I’ll do a half ironman with him and we can train together, and won’t that be a nice couples thing to do and be supportive’.”

That, she says, “essentially fuelled me on to the ironman”, whereas after the race her husband decided to return to cricket and running on the weekends.

Last year, Ms Ryland came close to qualifying for the world championships, where two people from her age group were selected. “Then I started focusing more on training to get good enough to get my time down to have a shot finishing first or second in my age group.”

That proved successful, and Ms Ryland covered the 3.8k swim, 180k bike ride and 42.2k marathon run in 10 hours 18 minutes.

“It is a long day. It’s the longest thing I’ve ever done and it’s a bit surreal I think.”

So what, then, motivates her to undertake such a gruelling event?

Results driven

“I like to do a challenge,” she says. “The training’s hard and it’s quite time consuming, but I really like the race. And I like the idea of each year going back and improving and getting a better result from it. That’s what keeps me going.

“I’m very results driven, so once I set my mind to achieving something, it’s almost like I have to do it. It doesn’t always work out, but most of the time it does.

“It’s how I operate generally, whether it’s work or ironman.”

And she finds that training and competing does help with her work as a lawyer – “as long as I’m onto it with eating well and sleeping well.

“Exercise is good for you and it makes you sharper mentally, especially if you have a break for lunch.

“When I’m feeling on top of everything, then I seem to manage to feel good about the work that I’ve done, and I’m able to get through it efficiently, knowing I’ve answered the question properly or resolved the issue.”

DAC Beachcroft is mainly a litigation firm, which deals in insurance law. Much of Ms Ryland’s work is in general litigation – claims work, representing builders, architects and lawyers, and professional negligence claims.

“I also do disciplinary proceedings in the medical legal area. It’s quite broad general litigation, but all within mainly within that negligence-privacy-breach of contract-professional negligence realm.”

Before competing at Kona, Ms Ryland will travel to Mooloolaba in Australia for Ironman 70.3 [half distance] World Championship in September. She qualified for that race in the half ironman at Taupo in December last year.

“That will be my warm-up race and then Kona is on 8 October. That will be the key one,” she says.

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