The Iron Nun – Sister Madonna Buder
Updated: Feb 10, 2019
Sister Madonna Buder was born in St. Louis, Missouri in July 1930.
She entered the convent of The Sisters of the Good Shepherd until 1990, then she moved to Spokane, Washington, to serve with the Sisters for Christian Community (Sayago 2007).
In her youth, she was an active person, but she didn’t become a committed athlete until hearing the urgings of a Catholic priest during a retreat on the Oregon coast (McGinn 2010). Then at “only” 48 years old, she decided that it was time be an athlete.
Sister Buder ran her first 8.2 miles (13 km) race, as she mentioned “backwards” (McGinn 2010) because the only place she had ever trained was on a tennis court. After this knockout experience, she joined a running group, where she heard about the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.
“Her first thought was how claustrophobic she would feel swimming along with so many others, her second was that she couldn’t conceive of sitting in a bike saddle for so long, and her third was that she simply had to try it” (McGinn 2010).
In 2005, after completing the Hawaii Ironman at 75 years old, obtaining the record of the oldest woman that had ever finished the race, she earned the nickname of “Iron Nun”. However, it wasn’t enough, and the year later she beat her record finishing the race in only 16 h 59 min. Up to today Sister Madonna Buder ran more than 340 triathlons and held dozens and dozens of record. She even wrote a book “The Grace to Race”, and Nike made a commercial about her incredible story (2016). However, she seems not to be touched by all this fame and carries on with her training and her nun’s duty.
One of my favourite quote from her, worth to mention is: “The only failure is not to try!”. Probably is true that age is just a number. However, we have to keep in mind that nothing comes easily, there are failures, pains, and broken bones at every step.
So, don’t waste your time, start now.
Viral Now (2016): Met Nike’s ‘Iron Nun’, Sister Madonna Buder?, Athena Information Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
McGinn, D. (2010). Nun on the run (and the bike, and in the water), The Globe and Mail Inc.
Sayago, J. (2007). “Sister Madonna Buder” Runner’s World 42(12): 74-75.