Connie Feist does more in a typical week than most people do in a typical year, but her marathon schedules never seem to interfere with what's most important to her - family.
Originally from Butte, Mont., Feist came to Minot 20 years ago after getting a degree in hospitality management from Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Mich. Her husband at the time had a dairy farm by Esmond while Feist worked at the International Inn. Feist's daughter from that marriage, Amber Alexander, currently attends St. Cloud State University in Minnesota on a swimming scholarship.
"She was a product of the Minot High swimming force for quite a few years," Feist said.
Dan Feldner/MDN •
Connie Feist sits behind her desk at Real Builders Dec. 1. Along with her business pursuits, Feist also stays active in local and statewide organizations, runs marathons and still manages to make time for her family.
She also has a son, Austin Feist, a 7th-grader at Erik Ramstad Middle School, with her second husband, Joel.
Besides doing the bookkeeping and payroll for Real Builders, a construction company she owns with Joel, Feist is also involved with numerous boards and organizations on the local and state level.
She is going on her fourth year as a member of the Minot Park Board, which oversees the various properties of the Minot Park District, including the many parks in town, Maysa Arena, Souris Valley Golf Course, Roosevelt Park Zoo, Corbett Field and Jack Hoeven Wee Links.
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It was actually family, namely her daughter, that helped inspire Feist to get involved with the park board in the first place.
"My daughter was swimming for Minot Swim Club, and I saw the need for the new bathhouse at Roosevelt Park, so that was one of the issues," Feist said. "I've been involved with the trails committee - we use the trails frequently on our runs - and the adopt-a-trail program, was involved with launching that. Not as a park board member but just as a citizen,"
Feist thought she could bring a fresh, female perspective to a government entity like the park board. With children still in school, she was the perfect candidate to bring the concerns of parents to the board's attention.
"I've always thought our parks are really one of our assets in the community and have been proud of them," she said. "I've loved serving on the board."
With the bathhouse at Roosevelt Park Pool complete, Feist is turning her attention to upcoming projects such as the new entrance building at Roosevelt Park Zoo and the ongoing plans to expand Minot's trails system.
She believes Minot is a little behind other large communities in the state as far as networking the trails.
"We have a lot of little trails here and there but they're not all networked together," Feist said. "And we're working on it. There's a plan to do that, but it just doesn't happen overnight."
Along with the park board, Feist is also involved with the Sertoma Club, the state board of Easter Seals Goodwill of North Dakota, the YMCA board and the Minot Area Community Foundation board.
"You start listing all these different things I'm involved with and it's like, doesn't she say no?" Feist said with a laugh.
Yet another board she is involved with, the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, recently elected her chairwoman.
"It's really an honor actually just to be on that board because it's business owners or managers from throughout the state in all different industries - large business, small business," Feist said. "I just enjoy sitting and listening to these accomplished people."
In fact, it's being a business owner that allows Feist to divert her attention to so many different organizations while also having enough time left over for her family.
"There's a real freedom that you have, too, when you're the owner of a business. That's right up my alley, it allows me to follow my kids around with their activities," Feist said. "I wouldn't be able to do the different boards and organizations I'm involved with if I wasn't in the situation with owning my own business."
With all these different activities pulling Feist in a dozen different directions, she definitely needs some time to herself as well. One of her biggest passions is running. While she makes extensive use of Minot's trails system every morning, it doesn't stop there.
"Through high school I was a runner, a track runner, and then after having our son, Austin, just to get back into shape I started running. And it really snowballed," Feist said with a laugh, "into marathons. I've completed 30 marathons to date."
She's ran in several well-known marathons, including New York, Chicago, and four times in the Boston Marathon. One of the thrills Feist gets from marathons is being able to run with some of the best athletes in the world.
"Marathoning is one of the few sports where you're able to actually be in the exact same event as the best in the world and still compete with them," Feist said. "Obviously you're not going to be up where they're running, but it's kind of an all comers, everyone's welcome. I love the atmosphere."
One of Feist's favorite marathons she has participated in was the New York Marathon two years ago. It uses a lottery system to determine the entrants, and Feist was one of around 40,000 people who got in out of more than 100,000 hopefuls.
"It's a cool experience because you run through all five boroughs in the city. They shut New York down, if you can believe that," she said. "All the people along the course, and you see all the different ethnicities in New York, and it's just really a neat thing.
"I actually brought a camera with me on that. Usually I run to kind of compete, but this one I was snapping pictures. Jumped out of the race and had my picture taken with the New York firemen, jumped back into the race. They were on their big ladder trucks, it was just awesome. It was a pretty neat experience running that."
While the number of boards and organizations Feist is involved with is dizzying, she believes in the mission of every one. Making a difference in her community is why Feist serves, and even with all that, she still has time for meetings with the most important board of all - her husband and two children.
"I guess it's just being with people that have common interests on these different boards," Feist said. "I really believe in all of the organizations that I'm involved with, so I enjoy being around people that are also committed to doing something that they believe in."
"But the one thing I don't allow is to take away time from my kids, and my favorite thing is to go to their activities. ... That's my time that I really enjoy," she added.