Home NEWS UPDATE: Inspiring Minnesota runner, battling rare cancer, dies at 32 #BraveLikeGabe
UPDATE: Inspiring Minnesota runner, battling rare cancer, dies at 32 #BraveLikeGabe

UPDATE: Inspiring Minnesota runner, battling rare cancer, dies at 32 #BraveLikeGabe


MINNEAPOLIS — Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald, once the country’s best runner, who inspired so many as she battled cancer and kept running, has died at the age of 32.

Gabriele Grunewald’s husband posted on Instagram Tuesday, “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. (Gabriel) 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.

“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.”

The 32-year-old distance runner was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma — a rare form of cancer in the saliva glands — in 2009, while running for the University of Minnesota’s track and cross country teams.

Following surgery and radiation therapy, she went on to finish second in the 1,500 meter at the 2010 NCAA championships.

Over the past few days, Gabriele’s health quickly deteriorated, as her husband kept the public notified on his Instagram, telling friends and fans to send her one last message and she would see them.

Garrett Heath, a Winona Senior High School and Stanford alum, was a Brooks Running teammate of Gabriele.

He wrote on Justin’s post: “You inspire me every day. Your courage, competitive spirit and contagious smile are enough to make anyone believe in the impossible. Regardless of what you’ve been dealt, you’ve always made the best of every day and put others before yourself. You’re the best of us and the impact that you’ve had on everyone around (and many who you’ve never met) will live on and never be forgotten. I’ll always cherish your friendship, laugh and our great times together both on the track and over a post race beer and burger. Your bravery will continue to inspire me every day. Love you always. #BraveLikeGabe.”

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*** update read whole post *** It breaks my heart to say but overnight Gabriele’s status worsened with worsening liver function causing confusion. Wanting to do her no harm we have made the difficult decision to move her to comfort cares this afternoon. I wanted to let you all know while she is still alive so you can send her one last message here or on her wall or on her phone before she heads up to heaven. I wrote this to her a couple years ago below and wanted to share what she means to me. Dear Gabriele, First, thank you. Thank you so much for showing me what it's like to be and feel alive. It's easy to pass through life day to day and punch a time card wishing away the hours. Currently although I don't always show it, I cherish every second. Whether we are out running, binging on a new Netflix series, or just lying in bed being lazy. Nothing beats the feeling I get when I see your smiling face. I know life is scary and I know we have won the lottery of uncertainty, and it's not fair, but I still choose our life of uncertainly and at times fear, over any alternative option I could think of. I have so much fun with you and have learned more from having you as my best friend and wife than I learned in the rest of my life combined. I know you have been given the heaviest of tasks in life. The task of being brave despite feeling enormous amounts of fear. The task of smiling when your throat wells up with pain and eyes want to fill with tears, but I don't think you were chosen by random chance, and again I know that's not fair but you are so amazing at being you and that's why I feel bravelikegabe is so special. Because there isn't a word in the dictionary for what you do or who you are. Brave flails in comparison to what you are to me and to so many people out there facing the simplest and silliest of struggles in day to day life. At the end of the day people won't remember the PRs run or the teams qualified for but they will remember that hard period in their life where they were losing hope but they found inspiration in a young lady who refuses to give up. I love you ❤️ #bravelikegabe #runningonhope

A post shared by Justin Grunewald (@justingrunewald1) on

After college, Gabriele ran professionally through 2017 despite more surgeries and treatments for cancer in her thyroid and liver. She was the 2014 U.S. indoor champion in the 3,000 and inspired many through social media, as she kept fans apprised of her battle with cancer and her ability to keep putting on miles.

Read more about her running life and ongoing battle here.

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