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Sister Madonna Buder Prepares to Race at 80

sister madonna buderMost of us in the triathlon community have seen her racing, heard of her or have watched her story on the tv coverage of the Ironman World Championship race in Kona. If you haven't, then be prepared to be inspired or motivated to take on the sport or continue the challenge.

Sister Madonna Buder also known as the "Iron Nun" is a Roman Catholic nun from Spokane, Washington. She started running at the age of 48 and competed in her first Ironman when she was 55. She has completed over 325 triathlons including countless Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events (30+). In 2005 at the Ironman World Championship race at age 75, she became the oldest woman ever to complete the race, finishing 1 hour before the 17-hour midnight cut-off time. In 2006 in Kona at age 76, she again became the oldest woman ever to complete the race, this time barely finishing under the 17 hour mark with a time 16:59:03.

Sister Madonna Buder didn't get to complete her race in Penticton at Ironman Canada. The 80 year-old has had some wetsuit issues.
In 2008, Sister Madonna participated in the Ironman Canada race held in Penticton, British Columbia. All day and at the end spectators cheered and encouraged her but this time she was unable to finish the race under the 17 hour cut-off, finishing in a time of 17:02:47.

In the Ironman community, a failure like that is painful but triggers that knee jerk reaction to try again and conquer the course another day. Fast forward a year... On August 30, 2009, Sister Madonna was back in Penticton and this time successfully completed Ironman Canada in a time of 16:54:30. The accomplishment broke her own record of being the oldest female to complete in an Ironman triathlon at the age of 79. At the time, Sister Madonna said that she would be back next year to be the first 80 year old woman to finish an Ironman.

How inspiring and remarkable is her story, well she is one of the 17 athletes profiled in a new book from VeloPress called "17 Hours to Glory: Extraordinary Stories from the Heart of Triathlon" by Mathias Muller and Timothy Carlson.

The 2010 Ironman Canada triathlon takes place on August 29, 2010 in Penticton, B.C. Canada. If she manages to conquer the course, which is highly possible she'll break her own record as the oldest woman to complete an Ironman. We could all say a prayer for her, but it might be that a higher power will be on her side. We wish her the BEST!

Excerpt from: At 80, the 'Iron Nun' Prepares for Her Next
There is a certain type of athlete, a certain type of person, even, who competes in triathlons. Not satisfied with simply running, bicycling or swimming, triathletes want to knock out all three, one after another. These are people who crave a challenge, who have to push themselves further than most, who refuse to be defined by normal expectations. And should you assume that a triathlete is an elite athlete in his/her 20s or 30s, Sister Madonna Buder might like to have a word with you -- albeit, a very kind one.

That's because this nun at the Sisters for Christian Community in Spokane, Wash., also happens to have competed in more than 300 triathlons, and she's made, well, a habit out of exceeding people's expectations time and again. You see, on July 24, Sister Madonna will celebrate her 80th birthday. Then, just over a month later, she'll compete in the Ironman Canada, and should she finish it, she'll break her own record as the oldest woman to complete an Ironman -- one she initially set in 2005, as triathlons try to keep up with her by opening up new age groups.

Follow the link to read more from the article: At 80, the 'Iron Nun' Prepares for Her Next Triathlon by Marc Hertz