Sister Madonna Buder, an 84-year-old Roman Catholic nun who lives in Spokane, Washington, has competed in 350 races since taking up running at the age of 48. This includes nearly 20 appearances at Ironman Canada. Sister Buder was willing to compete in an Ironman triathlon again in 2012 as she wanted to open up an 80+ age category and be the oldest person, male or female, to finish an Ironman triathlon.
Buder was successful in finishing the Subaru Ironman Canada race, becoming the overall Ironman champion in age at 82. She is also a senior Olympian, holding records in various distances.
Sister Buder started running on the advice of a priest. “Running was a salvation for me. I was going through a very difficult period when I started running. When I got out there to run, you’re lost in this huge globe of greenery and various things in nature that make you realize how minimal your insignificant problems really are.” Running gave way to triathlons, and now one of the reasons Sister Buder enjoys participating is to “perpetuate the age group for people to see it is possible [to be active like this at my age]”. Although Buder considers herself akin to a “China doll” who has been chipped away at every so often, injuries have not stopped her from resuming her activities. This includes a return to triathlon after suffering a broken hip and being told by the doctor that she would never walk again.