Iron Nun – The Woman who conquered Ironman at 82 – Story of Grit and Perseverance

A nun looked outside her window on a beautiful morning as the cool breeze blew across on the streets outside as if inviting her to come out.

She looked at herself for a while before taking the first tentative steps outside, feeling the warmth of the early morning sun on her cold face while breathing in fresh breeze scented with wild flowers.

She began walking in the open after a long time.

Her creased face broke into a subtle smile while the 48-year-old legs bubbled with energy as she completed a long walk.

Promising to repeat the activity again she retired back to the church. 

The walk quickly turned into a daily ritual as she began liking her morning rendezvous with nature as the walk soon became jogging and jogging turned into running.

Very soon, she also began participating in various running events as well as in marathons, ultimately deciding to try herself in Triathlon’s.

Triathlon is considered the ultimate test of one’s physical endurance and one need supreme fitness to not only complete the race but to even participate. 

At an age when most people would quietly retire or dream to play with their grand kids, she vowed to compete at the Triathlon challenge.

Showing an amazing strong will and a steely resolve, she managed to not only compete but also complete the event. 

Soon, within a few years’ time, she had participated in over 325 triathlons.

She completed her first Triathlon at the of age 52 and began preparation for the ultimate fitness challenge – Ironman Competition(it’s a pity it’s still called Ironman), conquering it as well, aged 55.

It was unbelievable but there was still more she wanted to achieve as she continued to participate in even more Ironman competitions and till now has completed over 45 of them.

At 2005 and 2006 Hawaii Ironman challenge, she became the oldest woman ever to complete it.

She however, did not breeze through every competition and had to struggle in 2008 Penticton, BC, Canada Ironman challenge which she was unable to finish within the 17 hours cut off time.

However, at 79, she decided to challenge it again and in 2009 completed it in a record time of 16 hours and 54 minutes.

Her age was becoming an impediment for her to participate as most organizers could not accommodate her because of her turning 80 and when Subaru Ironman Challenge accepted her, she became the first woman over the age of 80 (she was 82 at that time) to finish the race in 16 hours and 32 minutes.

Her passion to break free from the known and try out something beyond her capacity, did not subsided as she continued to participate in even more challenges, if not in the whole race, parts of it, never allowing her age to prevent her from achieving or doing what she always wanted to do.

By The original uploader was Pennbradly at English Wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0,

She is also called the Iron Nun and her name is;

Mary Dorothy Buder

An inspiration for everyone. 

No excuse ever given owing to age or for not being able to complete a race.

In 2010 she could not finish the Ironman Canada competition due to wet suit and in 2011, her time was a little more by 2 minutes than what was allowed for completion.

However, she put aside these obstacles and went on to compete again in 2012 in Subaru Ironman Canada competition, finishing off the race at the age of 82 in a record time.

An epitome of grit and perseverance, she never allowed her weaknesses to overpower her passion and strength, conquering them over and over again and living a life we all aspire to live.

She also wrote an autobiography titled;

‘The wisdom and Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete Known as the Iron Nun’

So, do you have any excuse or had one, which you overcame.

Do share!!

And do read;

The Grace to Race: The Wisdom and Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete Known as the Iron Nun


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