Sister Madonna Buder to bring her message of positivity to the 4th International Conference for Women in Sports

82-year old Madonna Buder, also known as Iron Nun, is testament to the motto that age is indeed just a number as she takes on arduous triathlons, and is all set to bring her wisdom to UAE at the 4th International Conference for Women in Sports in Abu Dhabi.

When 82-year old Madonna Buder, member of non-canonical Sisters for Christian Community, found her calling in running triathlons, little did everyone know that her frail body contained an iron will that not only got her through the gruelling course of the Canadian Iron Man, but got her numerous records and honours under her belt.

She served as a major catalyst for opening up the category for 80+ in the Canadian Iron Man and currently holds the world record for being the oldest person to run the Iron Man triathlon.

To date, Sister Madonna has competed in 37 marathons and 377 triathlons, including 45 ‘Ironman’ triathlons and attributes her fit physique to functional training and a clean diet.

“I can’t say I have anything special about my diet or training. I take a lot of herbal stuff and make sure I eat well.


As for my training, I do what is called functional training, like there has got to be a reason for me to go out and run. So, I run to the Mass if the weather and time permits me and I always manage to squeeze in some exercises during the day whether it is swimming, running, or biking.”

Having grown up with a penchant for equestrian sports and now spends her old age taking care of her bike.

The 87-year old was initially afraid of sparking scandal, as a marathoning nun was still an oddity that the world had yet to get used to.

Even Sister Madonna contemplated the appropriateness of her choice to enter sports, and found solace in her faith that laid all her doubts to rest.

She said: “I had to really fight with myself whether this is really something that was right or not. I ended up going to retreat and I perched myself at a mountaintop, and I talked to god about the situation and the answer was that when someone has a gift and they realize they have it, they are obligated to use that gift for God’s greater honour and glory.”

Her little epiphany has given her the strength and courage to continue her journey and with her regular appearances in each event she was no longer the oddball that everyone had thought her to be at first.

Following the Canadian Iron Man She was lovingly dubbed as the ‘Iron Nun’, even though Sister Madonna described the nickname as a ‘crazy joke’, but the moniker has stuck with her since it was coined and has to lead to some amusing encounters for her.

“I would often go through the metal detectors at the airport and the security would often jokingly ask if I have any metal on me or not, and I would just tell them my whole body is full of scrap metal,” she recounted with a chuckle.

Sister Madonna also runs from her church to the local jail, a practise she started in 1982 and continues depending on how favourable the weather is.

At the end of each run, she visits and interacts with the inmates and described her time there as a truly ‘humbling experience’.

“I have met many people and I remember talking to a man who thought he didn’t belong there and perhaps he didn’t, but once I left I felt really humbled, because I thought to myself that if it was god’s will I could have been in that prison. I mean, I am not a perfect person and you never know what can happen. But whenever I am there I just feel comfortable and I really like it when the inmates share their stories with me,” she said.

Her autobiography titled ‘The Grace to Race: The Wisdom and Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete Known as the Iron Nun’ was published in 2010 through which she aims to motivate others to achieve their goals in life.

Sister Madonna Buder is all set to bring her message of positivity to the UAE at the 4th International Conference for Women in Sports (ICSW) in Abu Dhabi on November 6 and 7.