The first scene of the 53 second commercial showed a deceptively frail-looking nun praying, then shushing the narrator for being noisy inside the church.
Sister Madonna Buder, 86, was featured in an inspirational advertisement campaign of Nike entitled “Unlimited Youth” which was shown during the Rio Olympics.
A Roman Catholic, Sr Buder is currently a member of the non-canonical, ecumenical Sisters for Christian Community based in Spokane, Washington. She entered the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd at 23.
“It wasn’t until I was about 47 or 48 that I was introduced to running. Actually, by a priest!,” she said.
Sr Buder’s introduction to sport came just seven years before her first race in Hawaii, when she attended a workshop on the Oregon Coast that was led by a priest who championed running as a way to harmonize the mind, body and soul.
She took running to extreme, though, almost burning out before she discovered Triathlon.
“There was a point when I didn’t want to see a pair of running shoes. Then, triathlon came in. That was the salvation,” she said.
When Sister Buder needed a little help to complete her first IRONMAN® World Championship triathlon in Hawaii, she predictably channeled the divine. “I thought of the finish line as the entrance to the final finish line, into the Pearly Gates,” she recalls. “That’s what drew me to [it].”
Sister Buder completed that race in 1985, at the age of 55. At 82, the American nun became the oldest woman to ever complete an IRONMAN triathlon. She also broke the record for best finishing time (16 hours and 32 minutes) for the 80 to 84 age group — an achievement that still stands.
“There’re a lot of times when I had to think about failures and not reaching the goal that I might have set for myself. Then, I realised the only failure is not trying. Because your effort in itself is the success,” she said.
“You carry your attitude with you,” Sister Buder elaborates. “You either achieve or you self-destruct. If you think positively, you can even turn a negative into a positive.” Along with this spiritual guidance, she imparts simple, yet easily applicable performance advice to younger athletes: “One step at a time makes a marathon.”