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!”

Dr. Melanie Blake
Dr. Melanie Blake

Pigs In East Ridge

Hey Fellow East Ridge taxpayers and home owners, did you know that you can now own a hog, as in farm animal and keep it in your front yard in the city of East Ridge? Well, by George on Dupont Street, you can. I'm talking about a big hog . And you know what else? It doesn't do any good to call and report it to authorities, because this bunch of renters are allowed to do anything ... (click for more)

Give A Choice Of Jail Time Or The Military - And Response (3)

Once again we have had multiple shootings over this long weekend.  To all the wannabe gang bangers and "tough guys", if you want to act so tough why not join the Army as an infantry soldier. If convicted of a crime with a gun, how about mandatory military service? In the 70's people were given a choice of jail time or military. Take away that choice and let them go to the ... (click for more)

Planning Commission Votes 6-5 To Reject 7-Story Apartment Building On Cowart Street

After lengthy discussion on Monday before the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, historical neighborhood advocates won a victory in the Southside area when the commission narrowly rejected a request to allow developers to build a seven-story apartment building on the 1200 block of Cowart Street.   The Belle Investment Co. & BYD Coward, ... (click for more)

Charges Upgraded Against Avery To Murder After Victim of Chair Leg Attack At Moccasin Bend Dies

Charges have been upgraded to murder against Leviticus Avery, 37, after a man he allegedly attacked with a chair leg has died. Avery initially was charged with aggravated assault and attempted first-degree murder in the incident last Thursday at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health facility. Kevin Green, 38, remained in critical condition until he died. He was struck in ... (click for more)

Sale Creek Comes Back To Beat Silverdale For 3-A Volleyball Crown

It's been an incredible run for the Silverdale Lady Seahawks in recent days as they shocked everyone except themselves by winning the District 5-A volleyball tournament last week. They entered as the third-seeded team before knocking off number-two Boyd-Buchanan in the semifinals and then top-seeded Grace in the final. That run of good fortune continued at Sale Creek's McEwen ... (click for more)

Ooltewah Makes Short Work Of White County In 3-3A Volleyball

Ooltewah had one goal going into Monday night’s Region 3-3A volleyball tournament match against White County. Don’t mess this up. The Lady Owls, shooting for their third regional championship in four years, never wavered in thrashing the outmanned Warriorettes, 3-0, and advanced to Tuesday’s championship match against the Walker Valley. Game scores bear out the one-sided ... (click for more)