This 86-Year-Old Nun Is the Unlikely Star of a New Nike Ad

August 16, 2016, 8:35 PM UTC
Challenge Triathlon: Roth
Photograph by Lennart Preiss — Getty Images

Sister Madonna Buder is living proof that age is just a number.

The 86-year-old nun is the face of Nike’s “Unlimited Youth” ad, where she’s featured running, biking, and swimming with a fierce determination that would scare off any of the opponents in the 40 plus triathlons she’s competed in.

Buder is nicknamed “The Iron Nun,” a name she got from Ironman competitions, a triathalon that combines a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run.


Buder was 47 when she started her running career, inspired to do so after she heard a priest talk about its health benefits, the Huffington Post reports. She competed in her first race at 52, and at 75 competed in an Ironman race, making her the oldest woman to ever do so.

Despite being a sister in a nontraditional religious order called the Sisters for Christian Community, Buder told Cosmopolitan in 2014 said that she still has time to fit her training for the races into her daily life. She even runs to her church in Spokane, Wash.

Buder has experienced a few set backs, like when she fractured her pelvis during bike training, and in 2014 when she wasn’t able to finish an Ironman race in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.


But that hasn’t stopped her from traveling internationally for races; Buder said that running helps her see the world.

“Don’t pay attention to how old you are, only focus on how old you feel,” she told Cosmopolitan. “And be patient — one of my worst enemies is patience, I’m still trying to fine-tune it so that I’m able to stop and smell the roses.”

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