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50 miles, 50 pairs of shoes: A SoleMates profile with Heidi Conto

Posted 4/8/2015 | News

By Amy Fallucca

Now that spring is here, it’s officially racing season in Wisconsin! And if you are eyeing some races for this spring, summer or fall – why not consider becoming a Girls on the Run SoleMate?

To inspire you, here’s a Q&A with a truly exceptional SoleMate, Heidi Conto. Heidi has been a coach for Girls on the Run for the past three years at her daughter’s school, Deerfield Elementary in Oak Creek, Wis. While training for her first Ultra Marathon 50 Miler, she decided to set a goal that would keep her focused on a bigger purpose – and found just that in the GOTR SoleMates program.

 Heidi, why do you love Girls on the Run?

The GOTR program has helped me to coach girls who came into the program never having to train or run a race. It has allowed me to help build self esteem, confidence, tackle tough situations, teach what a healthy lifestyle looks like, and most importantly provide encouragement to young girls that they CAN run a 5K and stand up for themselves in difficult situations.  

How did you decide to become a SoleMate?

As I am training for my first Ultra Marathon 50 Miler, I wanted to find something that would keep me "moving forward" (something we teach strongly to our girls). Being a SoleMate allows one to provide an opportunity for a young girl to grow.  No matter where that girl is developmentally, this program will touch her heart and help instill good choices and healthy habits. 

GOTR is continuously raising funds to provide girls who are less fortunate to afford the program. The funds they raise goes towards scholarships, healthy snacks, participant supplies, and for any girl who is in need of them, a free pair of shoes.

Tell us about your fundraising goal.

I have chosen to raise enough funds for 50 girls to receive a pair of running shoes. The cost for one pair of running shoes is $35.00.  For each mile I accomplish in my race, I hope to provide a girl with a pair of running shoes.My goal is to raise $1,750 and I am currently at $1,275.

If you are interested in keeping my motivation going and putting running shoes on young girls please consider donating to my fundraiser here. Your donation would mean so much to me but even more to that young girl who will be able to afford the program. 

What challenges have you had to overcome in training?

My greatest challenge in having to overcome in my training would have to be the weather and the time commitment.  As we all know, Wisconsin weather is not considered the top state for all year running.  I ran many miles on the treadmill when weather did not allow me to run outside, however, that was often my very last resort.  My running partner Tim Ulrich (whom I owe much gratitude to) forced me to get up early mornings to get long runs in.  I have to take this opportunity to thank Tim for being my coach, my support, my nutrition guide, and most of all, my running partner.  He has helped me to physically and mentally prepare for my first Ultra race. 

Another challenge I had to overcome in training which some may not think is a challenge but the guilt as a mom to make such a large commitment that can take time away from your husband and children.  I have been absolutely blessed with a wonderful husband who has supported me through all my rough spots, taken care of minor injuries (fortunate to have a hubby as a PT), and gives me the confidence every day that I CAN DO THIS!!!  Although I have guilt some weekends when I am out running 5 to 7 hours at a time, my children continuously welcomed me home each run excited to hear how I did and how many miles I ran.  I know I am doing something right by teaching my children DETERMINATION and finding your passion.   

What advice would you have for others who are considering becoming a SoleMate

My advice is...DO IT...It’s something you will never regret.  You are providing an opportunity for a young girl to participate in a program that may forever touch her heart and SOLE!!! 


Thank you, Heidi, for your hard work and dedication to GOTR! Even though Heidi has (WAY TO GO!) completed her Ultra Marathon 50, her fundraising page is still open!  To learn more about the SoleMate program, check out GOTR’s site

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