Menominee’s Moon Belongy receives a medal from Rod Tafelski after running the Aurora MACC Half Marathon. <br><i>Special to the EagleHerald</i>
Menominee’s Moon Belongy receives a medal from Rod Tafelski after running the Aurora MACC Half Marathon.
Special to the EagleHerald
MENOMINEE - One small step at a time, Moon Belongy of Menominee began running six years ago.

"First I was just running around the block, then a few more blocks," Belongy said.

Five years ago, he was urged to try the NorthReach Waterfront 5K run.

"When I was a young kid at age 70," Belongy said.

He recalls being the only 70-year-old to run the race that year.

Two years later, the Menominee resident earned a first-place medal at the 5K Cellcom Run. Then, it was back to Green Bay for the 10K Bellin Run, where he placed sixth in the 70-and-over age division with a time of 1:06.

Last month, Belongy ran the Aurora MACC Half Marathon with a time of 2:53.15.

"Just put one foot in front of the other and just keep going," is Belongy's race strategy. "The next thing you know, 2:53 later, I crossed the finish line."

It was his third half-marathon.

"So, a little bit of gas left in the tank," he said.

A 1956 Menominee High School graduate, Belongy has worn many hats in his lifetime. He didn't play high school football past the 10th grade but played football and basketball in the service. Then, he walked on at Middle Tennessee State, where he played defensive back.

A sign he saw at college, "Don't let your body control your mind, make your mind control your body," helps Belongy pass the miles away. So does another sign, which read, "pain goes away, success lasts forever."

After serving as a Rockford, Ill., policeman for three years, Belongy was an iron worker for 35 years.

"I'm used to hard work," Belongy said. "I'm used to running on empty. Running was no big thing."

He moved back to Menominee at age 65 but had ailments - arthritis in a shoulder, asthma and osteoporosis - which compromised his quality of life.

"I got hooked on zumba," he said.

He also began weightlifting to increase his bone density. He now runs 15 miles a week.

"I feel great. I feel like a new person," Belongy said. "Feel like I'm 20 years old again. And, I love zumba."

Belongy credits several for helping him rediscover his fountain of youth. Terri Falkenberg, Jenni Campbell and Joe Plautz from the M&M YMCA, Menominee endurance sport athlete Liz Johnson, Todd Schloegel and Belongy's dentist, Tom Schroepfer, have all passed along tips.

It's now Belongy's turn to pass along a tip.

"If I can do it, anybody should be able to do it," he said.