Taylor police lieutenant goes from biker to runner

Prior to Saturday, July 14, 2007, Mark Tonge had been in at least five Rollie Hopgood Midtown Taylor 5K runs, but his time had never been recorded.

Tonge, a lieutenant in the Taylor Police Department, had been the “motorcycle cop” leading race participants down Pardee Road, onto Goddard Road, into a Taylor neighborhood and into the course in Heritage Park.

“Leading it and watching all the healthy people running by, I was envious,” Tonge said. “I knew it was something I would like to do.”

Tonge, 44, had not run since he was in the police academy in 1985. In 22½ years on the Police Department, he gained weight, “didn’t feel healthy, felt sluggish and “didn’t like the way I looked in my uniform.”

He said he changed his nutrition, cutting out nearly all sugars – and lost 58 pounds in the process.

Even after losing the weight, becoming a runner was not part of his master plan. It was more of an afterthought.

“After I lost the weight, I had a lot of excess energy,” he said. “My foot was always tapping. I took off running and got hooked on it. It gives me a good feeling. It’s a good stress reliever.”

He started running and soon decided to compete in races in Riverview, Trenton and the Corktown St. Patrick’s Day Run. The 5K run in Taylor was actually the shortest of the races he’s run to date. He finished in 26 minutes, 53 seconds – good for 14th place among men age 40 to 44 and 181st overall in the field of nearly 350 runners.

“I had a lot better times on my motorcycle,” Tonge joked.

Tonge’s next goal is the Detroit marathon, set for October 21. He has posted on his refrigerator a training regiment for beginning marathon runners. His routine could include running three miles on a weekday and then 10 miles on a Sunday. By September, he’s expected to run 20 miles in a day.

“I’m going to try,” he said. “The training beats you up.”

Tonge said losing weight and getting into running is one of the most positive things he’s done since joining the Police Department.

“I think the sport is growing from what I can tell,” he said. “I’m probably one of many people that are taking up running for many reasons. There’s probably a lot of people that want to get healthier.”

Taylor police Lt. Mark Tonge competes in the Rollie Hopgood Midtown Taylor 5K Run at Heritage Park.

In 2007, Mark Tonge completed the transfer from motorycle rider to runner, although he still enjoys riding motorcycles, too.