Photo credit: Unlimited Youth, Nike
Unlimited Youth 86-year-old Sister Madonna Buder aka The Iron Nun
Known as the “Iron Nun”, Sister Madonna Buder is someone who doesn’t give up easily. She’s been running IRONMAN triathlons for more than 30 years and says: “The only failure is not to try.”
Buder began training at age 47-48 when a priest championed running as a way to harmonize the mind, body and soul. She completed her first triathlon at age 52 and first IRONMAN® World Championship triathlon in Hawaii at age 55.
And according to Nike, Buder became the oldest woman to ever complete an IRONMAN triathlon at 82. She also broke the record for best finishing time for the 80 to 84 age group — an achievement that still stands.
Today, at 86 years old, she has completed over 45 IRONMAN races, each comprising of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. Her steely resolve has earned her the nickname the “Iron Nun.”
“Along the way she’s had some setbacks — missing a race finish by a matter of seconds, multiple broken bones, wetsuit issues — but, she proclaims, “The only failure is not to try, because your effort in itself is a success.”” Nike
An amazingly inspiring lady with an equally positive mindset, Sister Buder says, “You carry your attitude with you. You either achieve or you self-destruct. If you think positively, you can even turn a negative into a positive.”
To the aspiring young athletes, she imparts this simple, yet easily applicable performance advice: “One step at a time makes a marathon.”
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“There were a lot of times where I had to think about failures and not reaching the goal that I set for myself,” she said. “Then I realized, the only failure is not to try, because your effort in itself is a success.“
Sister Buder’s autobiography The Grace to Race: The Wisdom and Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete Known as the Iron Nun
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