Gabriele Grunewald, once one of the country's best middle-distance runners and enthusiastic legions of fans with her courageous public fight against a rare form of cancer died on June 11 in Minneapolis. She was 32 years old. The message was shared by her husband Justin Grunewald in an Instagram post.
She ran and ran as long as she could, including an emotional tour of the Pro Track racetrack in 2017 . which left people in awe of their strength, though it lagged well behind the other elites in these events. She helped found two new races to raise funds and raise public awareness of rare cancers. She provided numerous media interviews, trained reality TV star Chip Gaines on his first marathon destination, and communicated with her about 72,000 followers on Instagram who are often informed about her condition, almost always with hopeful messages.
Grunewald (née Anderson) first fell ill with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a cancer that normally occurs in the salivary glands, in the spring of 2009 as a fifth year student at the University of Minnesota. This summer, she had to undergo surgery and radiation and applied for another year for the NCAA granted to her.
The following year, she improved massively, second at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in the open air, cutting off 1
After college, Grunewald signed an advertising contract with Brooks and continued training as a specialist. In October 2010 she was confronted a second time with cancer in her thyroid gland. After an operation to remove the thyroid and additional therapy, she returned to the track.
From 2012 to 2015, she ran a number of personal bests in competitions ranging from 800 to 5,000 meters. She took in Monaco in 2013 a 4: 01.48 in the 1500 on. Currently, she occupies the 12th place ever among American women.
In the US Olympic Games in 2012 she finished fourth in 1500 and missed only one place in the team USA on the way to London. It was the next step she took to the games. She won the National Indoor Title 2014 at 3,000 meters and represented the USA at the 2014 World Indoor Championships. She reached the final and finished ninth.
She reappeared at US. Olympic Trials in 2016 in Eugene, Oregon, where she spoke with Runner's World about how often e-mails were intercepted by young people aged 20 and over who were dealing with a life-changing diagnosis , "I hope you can look positively at my story and see that there is still a lot of life left to live," she said.
She did not know it at the time, but her cancer had already returned to her liver. Grunewald was qualified in the exams for the 1500 and 5000 meters. In the opening round of the 5,000, she said she felt flat and could not make it to the final. But she got some snacks with Justin and a few hours later she drove the 1500, made it to the semi-finals and then advanced to the final later. In this race she was far behind the pack, won in 4: 18.73 .
A few weeks later, during which time the attention of the railway world was focused on the Rio Olympics, Grunewald announced her grim news on her Instagram page.
In wrote in a post dated August 16, 2016 that she had a large tumor, a "metastatic recurrence of adenoid cystic carcinoma that I first diagnosed and cured of in 2009 If cancer survivors act, denial in Africa is not a river, it's a place where you have to live to keep up with your life, positive, optimistic that it's not s will come back and you will live a healthy, long and uninterrupted life.
She was operated on soon after. She removed more than half of her liver and left her with a long, arched purple scar that bisected her waist. As soon as she got over this fall, she kept running and training through the winter in Minneapolis, looking at the summer season. However, in March 2017, she learned that several small tumors had grown in her liver. That did not stop her from racing, and in the spring of 2017 she crossed the country, racing from Palo Alto, California, to Nashville, Tennessee, back to Eugene, Oregon and then to Boston. Justin, a doctor, traveled with her to make sure the race was safe for her.
Each time she wore a yellow Brooks top and a blue racing bottom. Her long scar was visible as she moved across the track. With increasing effect of the chemo she became further behind in each race. But the fans kept looking back at her and let their efforts inspire and hope.
"I believe my story has a different demographic dimension than that of elite runners," she said in an interview with Runner's World this summer. "It's cool and sometimes overwhelming, it puts a little pressure on me, I have to show people that it's possible, but being able to inspire people is great."
The US Grunewald raced one last time in the 2017 Sacramento national team and finished in last place in 4: 31.18.
This fall, she traveled between Minneapolis and New York, where she had herself treated by a team of experts, she had a fortuitous meeting in Central Park with Chip Gaines the star of the HGTV show Fixer Upper interested in her story and began to run under her guidance. In May 2018, he hosted the Silo District Marathon in Waco, Texas with the proceeds of the Brave Like Gabe Foundation benefiting. Founded in 2018, Grunewalds is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping research on rare cancers and strengthening cancer survivors through physical activity.
The first Silo District Marathon attracted 18,000 runners for a marathon, half-marathon and 5-kilometer run and raised $ 250,000. Grunewald won the 5 km in 19:46. (Gaines finished the marathon in 5:21:24 with long pants and his tool belt. The 2019 race brought in $ 300,000 .) Two weeks after the first Silo District event, Grunewald held her own race, the ] Brave Like Gabe 5K in Minneapolis, which attracted some 1,500 finishers and virtual runners and raised another $ 60,000.
Over the months, she kept fans informed of her progress. She posted pictures on Instagram showing that she had received intravenous immunotherapy, and she wrote about the results of scans as to whether the news was good, bad or mixed. She went to weddings with Justin, went on vacation, ran in beautiful places, shared with her followers dry wisdom and humorous trifles and offered in short paragraphs a roadmap for dealing with the uncertainty and grief of cancer.
At September 27, 2018 she wrote: "I can not claim escape, healing power, superpower or invisibility, though I somehow wish I could! The only superpower I can claim for myself is simply #Resilienz: Adaptation through life challenges, rebounding adversity. Developing resilience over the years has been a survival instinct rather than a decision for me, but it has been crucial for me to make progress in my cancer-stricken life.
At the beginning of the year 2019, the positions became rarer. She mentioned an emergency doctor visit. On April 10, she celebrated her 10th anniversary with cancer and wrote an update on her last treatment. She thanked everyone for their support. In an interview with Runner & # 39; s World on April 22, she expressed the hope that she could still return to the track and qualify for the Olympics in 2020.
She ran the second annual Silo District Marathon 5K in April. But she was hospitalized with an infection the night before her Brave Like Gift 5K and could not attend. That was her last post on Instagram .
On June 2, Justin wrote on his own Instagram page that his wife almost died in the Abbott Northwestern Hospital intensive care unit and he made the decision to move them to comfort care. Then she miraculously recovered and ate a shake-shack burger.
On June 7, he posted that she had returned to intensive care because of a septic shock, but three days later she had received the first dose of a different drug for ACC and they accepted "all prayers that [the drug] is another miracle for us ". On June 9, he wrote that she had been relocated to a nursing home. Tributes from runners from all over the world poured in, citing Grunewald's strength and courage, and top athletes talked about the funny moments they shared with her on the track.
Grunewald classified her fight against cancer as an "interruption" of her running activities. When Grunewald was asked about her best bet for runners fighting through a training program, he responded with a mantra that embodied her remarkably resilient mind.
You need to know why, "she said," I am definitely at a point in my life that I am trying to get out of a difficult health situation and insecurity, how long I will be able to stay on a moderately high level Level persist. I'm running. "Taking advantage of the time I have and drawing my attention to this thing that is close to my heart, and seeing what I can do under these circumstances, which I'm really curious about, that's my reason. "
Grunewald leaves her husband, her parents, four siblings and thousands of runners in the running community.
Additional coverage by Brett Williams.