Heralded Minnesota runner dies at 32

Gabriele "Gabe" Grunewald shared decade-long cancer battle with thousands

Mark Freie
June 12, 2019 - 5:22 am

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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Perham native, Gabriele "Gabe" Grunewald, 32, died Tuesday at her Minneapolis home according to her husband, Justin Grunewald.

At 7:52 I said “I can’t wait until I get to see you again” to my hero, my best friend, my inspiration, my wife. @gigrunewald I always felt like the Robin to your Batman and I know I will never be able to fill this gaping hole in my heart or fill the shoes you have left behind. Your family loves you dearly as do your friends. When @chipgaines made the final push in his #chipinchallenge I could feel your happiness building and could also see that this made you ready to head up to heaven. Chip thanks for helping her to go up so peacefully with no suffering. To everyone else from all ends of the earth, Gabriele heard your messages and was so deeply moved. She wants you to stay brave and keep all the hope in the world. Thanks for helping keep her brave in her time of need ------ #keeprunningonhope #bravelikegabe -- @pixelcrave -- @kohjiro_kinno

A post shared by Justin Grunewald (@justingrunewald1) on

Grunewald was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma - a rare form of cancer in the saliva glands - in 2009 as a member of the Univesity of Minnesota track and cross country teams. She captivated the running world, competing collegiately and professionally despite her diagnosis.

In 2010, she finished second in the 1,500 meter run at the NCAA championships following surgery and radiation therapy. Her journey continued in the 2012 Olympic trials, where she failed to qualify by one spot, finishing fourth. She then became the 2014 U.S. indoor champion in the 3,000. She continued running through 2017, battling through treatments for cancer in her thyroid and liver.

Grunewald gained thousands of social media followers as she shared her cancer battle and running career.

She also adopted the motto "Brave Like Gabe."

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