Sister Madonna Buder: The Iron Nun

Updated: August 12, 2019

Why is Sister Madonna Buder known as the “Iron Nun”?

Because the 89-year-old— from Spokane, Washington — has competed in almost 400 triathlons. And she’s still going strong.

Since taking up running in 1978, when Sister Madonna was 47, she’s competed in 390 triathlons. And that includes 45 Ironmans — one of the most grueling triathlons in the world. An ironman triathlon includes 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, and 26.2 miles of running!

By the time she was 52, she was running up to 70 miles a week, but it was getting a little boring. That’s when her adventure with triathlons started. 

And just look where it’s taken her! In 2012, she became the oldest person ever to complete an Ironman… at 82! And a few years after that, she starred in a Nike commercial.

I love sharing stories like these with you. They’re proof that you’re never too old to try new things or to pursue your dreams. Just look at Sister Madonna — still going for it! In fact, she plans to do another triathlon when she turns 90 next year.


Video Credit: findyouryoungtalent on YouTube

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  1. tonia kountz

    August 8, 2019 , 12:11 pm

    why is the Iron Nun in your promo? Does she or did she take AlgaeCal or Strontium?

  2. Blaire AlgaeCal

    August 15, 2019 , 10:49 am

    Great question, Tonia! Sister Madonna Buder does not take our products currently but we find her incredibly inspiring and wanted to share her amazing story with our readers ?

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  3. Lizabeth

    March 19, 2020 , 1:08 pm

    The Iron Nun began exercising at the age of 50 when many of us begin to feel the physical and emotional effects of aging (as I did). She proves that it’s never too late to start exercising. For those of us navigating osteoporosis, I’m inspired to see a 96 year-old who bears the fruit of consistent, weight-bearing exercise—a key factor to strong, healthy bones. Thank you for sharing her story on your “Bone-Healthy Living Blog”!

  4. Megan AlgaeCal

    March 20, 2020 , 2:43 pm

    Absolutely, Lizabeth! ?

    We love what you took away from the story of the Iron Nun and hope it inspires you to live a full life ?

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  5. Debbie Cosby

    July 23, 2020 , 5:29 am

    My name is Debbie and I am the Marketing Manager for Mrs. Sonya Dunbar a/k/a The Geriatric Toothfairy. We have a Facebook Live Video Program The Sexy, Suave, Seniors. We would like to interview Sister Madonna Buder for our show. Could you please inform us how do we get in contact with her.
    Thank you.

  6. Blaire AlgaeCal

    July 23, 2020 , 11:38 am

    Hi Debbie,

    Thanks for reaching out to us – your show sounds fantastic!

    That’s a great question. However, we were not in contact with Sister Madonna Buder ourselves, so we do not have her contact information available, unfortunately.

    We’re sorry we couldn’t be of more assistance. Please do let us know if you have any other questions! 🙂

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

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PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,
Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Dr. Carole McArthur
MD, PhD - Professor of Immunology, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City; Director of Residency Research in Pathology, Truman Medical Center.,