It took three tries, but Sister Madonna Buder finally achieved her goal of setting a record for the 80-plus age group.
“Either the third time is the charm or three strikes and I’m out,” said Buder, 82, who now owns four records. “I really did feel graced to accomplish it.”
She continued to do the triathlon because of the triathletes enthusiasm.
“It’s become family for me,” said Buder. “Particularly the attitude of the Canadians. They are so open and so welcoming. I just feel so much at home coming back to Penticton.”
Buder was challenged by the course Sunday when she reached Yellow Lake, an area that has always given her trouble.
“It’s so tempting to dismount and walk that last portion of it,” she said. “There are head winds after that little arm before approaching Yellow Lake. I don’t know what it is.”
However, she felt a power other than her own pushing her through.
“It was one of the smoothest that I ever had,” said Buder, who finished the triathlon in 16 hours, 32 minutes. “I really feel truly blessed. Grateful to be able to open the age group.”
Asked about the switch from Ironman to Challenge Penticton, Buder welcomes it because of the feeling she’s had since the World Triathlon Corporation took control.
“We (triathletes) are just treated as a commodity for a business, big business,” said Buder, who grew up in St. Louis, Mo. with a strong tone. “This corporation (the Challenge Family) seems to have a feel for the triathletes and for the community of Penticton. The Canadians can take it back and own it.”
Buder said the community did a superb job with Ironman Canada when it was their own.
“It was elegant yet it had all the touches that smacked of enthusiasm and appreciation for the efforts of the triathletes,” said Buder. “It was just wonderful. I know we can’t go backwards. This to me is an eye opener I hope for WTC, that they cannot monopolize the world of triathlon.
“They are going global but they need to have somebody stand up against them because it’s outrageous,” she continued. “The prices they are charging it’s like the emperor’s new clothes, you pay more for less.”
Buder plans to return to Penticton and participate in Challenge next year in a relay team. In what she described as a “serendipity situation,” she, Graham Fraser’s daughter Ryann, and Dyane Lynch, the first female to do Ironman will form the team. They will be called the Pioneers.
“This was supposed to be my swan song, kissing the Ironman goodbye. At least taking a vacation from it. I didn’t want to lose contact with the Canadians. Because they had opened this to teams I thought, hey, now I’m still doing a swan song, but I can come back as a team member.”