Q&A with Melissa Belk - GOTR Coach, Donor, and SoleMate


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Meet SoleMate Beth Giles-Klinkner

Photo of Beth holding up her medal after completing the 2023 Door County Half Marathon!

This year, Girls on the Run South Central Wisconsin is on a mission to recruit 3 new members into our SoleMates community - a group of passionate people who have signed up to fundraise for our council while counting miles on the trail, laps in the pool, or downward dogs in the studio. Today, we are so pleased to introduce Beth Giles-Klinkner, a member of Girls on the Run National SoleMate Team who is helping more local kids gain access to our programming by fundraising for our council as she trained for and participated in her first half marathon.  Beth is Interim Provost at Madison Area Technical College and a passionate champion for the next generation of women and girls. She is happy to share her story, and hopes you will join her by becoming a SoleMate, too! 

Greetings! It is an honor to connect with anyone reading here. My name is Beth Giles-Klinkner. I am proud to be a part of this community of runners and part of the GOTR SWCI family. My running journey began in March 2020, when we were all grappling with a global pandemic.  I was experiencing a sense of fear that I hadn’t before, and I knew I needed to engage in some physical movement to help manage my emotions. 

So I began walking every morning.  My route took me up a hill, where I paused each day as the sun came up. My walking pace became faster and faster until one day I started to run. It was baby steps at first:  just to the mailbox, then the next intersection, then to the school. Neither racing nor distance were on my mind. Calm was what I sought: steady breathing and soothed fears.  And it was working. I was getting stronger. Soon, I decided it was time to break out of my solo endeavor and join a community experience. I began turkey trotting and shamrock shuffling. I even bought a watch and tracked my time. I was a runner!

Fast forward a few years and a few more races. My confidence had grown. I needed my next big challenge. For a year or two I had toyed with the idea of the Door County Half Marathon. Until then, I was afraid to commit. Finally in 2023, I did it. I signed up to run the Door County Half. And what happened next truly enhanced my experience: I got an email about becoming a SoleMate, and I applied! That was just the extra commitment I needed to hold myself accountable to completing that race. My biggest motivation is being able to make a difference for others.  Being a SoleMate allowed me to do just that.

Running has benefited me in so many ways: it has improved my mental health, steadied my thoughts, and helped me find calm through job changes, my mom’s passing, and the endless hours of stress that accompany life. It has helped me reconnect with my worth and my inner strength - my girl power, as GOTR would say.  I knew when I took that starting line in May that I would finish, and that I wanted to share that confidence with others. Because every girl deserves the opportunity to feel that. And as a SoleMate, I do just that. I help power a program that teaches girls and youth how to believe in themselves and face whatever it is that comes their way.

As I took the starting line in May, I had a different color bib to indicate I was running for a cause.  One woman asked me what my cause was. When I said GOTR, a buzz ran through the starting line.  A collection of people started speaking up, sharing stories, and even thanking me.  So many people were GOTR coaches or knew participants.  It filled me with joy. When the gun went off, and I started my watch, I ran with more than 13 miles in mind. I ran with purpose, and thanks to GOTR, I ran with joy. And, yes, I finished… with the same joy. 

We are so grateful to Beth for sharing her story, and to other SoleMates like her who go the extra mile to empower the next generation. Like Beth, you can create a transformational experience for yourself, and for girls and youth we serve, by signing up to become a SoleMate today. Learn more about becoming a SoleMate by clicking here, or contact Director of Philanthropy Mary Salisbury at mary.salisbury@girlsontherun.org or (608) 352-0038. 


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We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Non-profit girl empowerment after-school program for girls.

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