Sister Madonna Buder

Sister Madonna Buder

Nike, we have to say, we never expected Sister Madonna Buder to be your next campaign star. After years of young, lithe athletes and sweaty sports icons, Nike have called on the 86-year-old nun to front their Unlimited series, and she’s the most inspiring woman we’ve seen in a long time. Well, aside from the athletes at the Rio Olympics 2016, of course.

Running, cycling and swimming her way through Nike’s Unlimited Youth film, Sister Madonna has no time for anyone who thinks being in your 80s means you can’t dominate an IRONMAN triathlon – in Hawaii. At 82, she became the oldest woman to ever complete the triathlon, and even broke the record for the best finishing time in the 80-84 age group. 16 hours and 32 minutes, in case you were wondering. 

Sister Madonna Buder

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Sister Madonna first introduced to sport by a priest who ‘championed running as a way to harmonise the mind, body and soul’. Deep. She tried it but nearly pushed herself too far, before turning to the triathlon for its variety, calling it her ‘salvation. You carry your attitude with you. You either achieve or you self-destruct. If you think positively, you can even turn a negatuve into a positive’.  

Religion has helped her through her 45 IRONMAN races: ‘I thought of the finish line as the entrance to the final finish line, into the Pearly Gates. That’s what drew me to [it]’. If anyone is going to get you through a 2.4mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run, it’s the big man. No wonder she’s been nicknames the Iron Nun. Anyone else starting to feel guilty about their lacklustre gym excuses?

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Sister Madonna has had some broken bones, but says ‘The only failure is not to try, because your effort in itself is a success’. And her top tip for anyone wanting to get into religion, sports - or both? ‘One step at a time makes a marathon’.