Roy Exum: The Amazing Melanie Blake

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Dr. Melanie Blake, an internal medicine specialist who has the distinct task of keeping me and countless hundreds of others alive at Chattanooga’s Erlanger Medical Center, proved she can sure be quick about it last weekend when she won two medals at the USA Track Federation’s Masters Indoor Championships in Boston.

Dr. Blake, a 35-year-old mother of two on Signal Mountain, won first place and the national title in the 60-meter hurdles and second in the 60-meter dash in the 35-39 Masters Division while running for the Chattanooga Track Club’s Race Team. “It is more fun than you can ever imagine,” the former Florida State standout said between seeing patients.

“I thought running-for-distance was pretty much all that was left until I read a magazine article about a female attorney in Atlanta who found sprints and hurdles were just as much fun after college. The people you meet and compete with are wonderful, as most runners already know, but I’ve found practicing is more fun than going to a gym every day.”

Dr. Blake, who was recently elected by her peers as Chief of Medicine at Erlanger, said she works out about four or five times a week, running in the late afternoons for Hugh Enick’s Red Bank High School club. At Boston last week the personable Enicks, whose day job is being a school administrator, was fourth in the men’s 3,000 in the 50-year age group while a teammate, Donnelle Dunning, earned second in the 60-meter dash among 35-year-old men.

Last week’s title was Dr. Blake’s second in the past year. Last summer in the National Outdoor Masters she won the 400-meter hurdles in something of a memorable race. “The top three finishers were red heads,” she laughed. “What’s fun is you get to know the other competitors and the girl I barely beat has two kids just like me. Total strangers, we find we have so much in common.”

Born the daughter of an Alabama dentist, she competed in cross-country, track and tennis at Alabama’s John Carroll High and early in her freshman year was running on Florida State’s track when she was approached by who she at first thought was the groundskeeper. Instead it was fabled FSU track coach Terry Long and he instilled a love for track in the future doctor.

Dr. Blake attended medical school at the University of Alabama Medical School in Birmingham and then did her residency at UA-Birmingham where she met her husband, Dr. John ‘Rhet’ Blake, who is a board-certified anesthetist and pain specialist in Chattanooga. “Rhet is avid about the outdoors and enjoys exercise as much as I do so we are a pretty active family.”

She said the Chattanooga Track Club is how she got into Hugh Enick’s program. “I stopped by Fast Break Sports and could hardly believe how easy it was to get involved. Chattanooga is so fortunate to have the track club where anybody is welcome, regardless of their expertise. Trust me, we all start slow!”

Her first-place medal in Boston qualified her to compete in the World Masters, which is being held in Budapest. “There is no way; it is in two weeks,” she said, “but if I can continue to get better and figure out how to get a little faster I think that would make a great family vacation sometime. As our children grow, Rhet and I really want them to enjoy sports as much as we have.”

She also wants more females to get involved. “I am one of few females my age who is still running track events but from just the number of women who run in distance events, I know there are a number of girls who enjoyed running track in high school and college. It would be wonderful if others would get involved because if we could put together some relay teams, it is incredibly rewarding when your team wins.”

Dr. Blake said she plans to run in some meets this spring and summer and hope to return to Olathe, Kansas, for the Outdoor Masters Nationals and defend her 400 meter hurdles title.

In the meanwhile, she pledges to practice just as hard in keeping me and hundreds of other patients alive. “I have to keep my cheerleaders!”

royexum@aol.com


Dr. Melanie Blake
Dr. Melanie Blake

Vote For Rhonda Thurman

In reference to Hamilton County District 1 Commission Race, I encourage you to vote for my friend of 20 plus years, Rhonda Thurman.  On a personal note I will relate a few things about Rhonda that you may or may not be aware of.  First and foremost, Rhonda  will not lie; she is most trustworthy and honest.  Secondly, Rhonda is a humanitarian.  ... (click for more)

A Vote For Christie Sell Is The Right Choice

What a privilege it is to write this letter on behalf of Judge Christie Sell.  I met Judge Sell years ago, and have been very blessed to call her a friend and mentor over the last two years.  As a young female attorney in Hamilton County, it is extremely important to have a respected female mentor. Judge Sell has been that person for me. She swore me into the practice ... (click for more)

Federal Judge Stops Erlanger Foreclosure Of Hutcheson Hospital

In a ruling Friday, a Federal Court Judge in Rome agreed with Hutcheson Medical Center and Regions Bank to grant the request for an injunction, effectively stopping the foreclosure efforts of Erlanger Health System against Hutcheson. In stopping the foreclosure set for next Tuesday, the judge held that the public interest in keeping the hospital doors open was “insurmountable.”  ... (click for more)

Mediated Resolution Reached In TVA Kingston Lawsuits

A mediated global resolution has been achieved in 63 lawsuits pending in U.S. District Court involving more than 850 plaintiffs asserting claims against the Tennessee Valley Authority arising from the 2008 ash spill at Kingston Fossil Plant. The resolution, outlined in documents submitted Friday to the U.S. District Court in Knoxville, comes after nearly two years of ... (click for more)

Live Viewing Party Of The National Championship Offered At First Tennessee Pavilion

Chattanooga Football Club fans will get one more chance to gather and cheer on the team as it battles for the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) National Championship powered by Mitre.  On Saturday, from 7-11:30 p.m. at the First Tennessee Pavilion, Big River Brewing Company, Volkswagen Chattanooga, Memorial, Finley Stadium, and EPB Fiber Optics are hosting ... (click for more)

Larry Fleming: Phil Schmidt Made Life Better For Those That Knew Him

The sad news came Thursday morning in a phone call from Jill Bowling, the daughter of Phil Schmidt, longtime photographer at The Chattanooga Times – for years he served as chief of the department – had passed away minutes earlier at TriStar-Centennial Hospital in Nashville. Through Jill’s tears she said, “Daddy died this morning.” It was a phone call I didn’t want to get and ... (click for more)