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‘The Iron Nun’ is World’s Oldest Female Triathlete

Sally Field may have been the Flying Nun -- but could she swim 2.4 miles through the ocean, bike 112 miles across a lava desert, and wrap it up with a 26.2 mile run, all within a single day?


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Sally Field may have been the Flying Nun –but could she swim 2.4 miles through the ocean, bike 112 miles across a lava desert, and wrap it up with a 26.2 mile run, all within a single day?

Didn’t think so. But if you’d like to meet a Sister who’d put Sally’s skills to shame, look no further than Sister Madonna Buder, a Roman Catholic nun from Spokane, Washingon, otherwise known as “The Iron Nun.”

Buder got started as a marathon runner in the late 1970s after a conversation with a priest who “talked about how running harmonizes mind, body and soul and how you get this peak experience that I thought you got only through prayer,” she told The Spokesman Review.

Soon, she moved on to triathlons, which involve a brutal combination of running, biking, and swimming. Since then, she’s competed in more than 300 triathlons, and in 2005, she broke a world record as the oldest woman to ever complete an Ironman competition. She’s been back twice since then –and incredibly, this Sister is still going strong at the age of 78.

“The whole idea of the finishing line was like reaching those Pearly Gates,” she told The Denver Post. “That would always draw me on to the finish for an Ironman. It was so symbolic of reaching your final reward, the thought of giving up never, ever occurred to me.”

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