Tributes are pouring in from around the running world to Gabriele Grunewald, the middle distance runner whose battle with a rare form of cancer ended last week when she passed away at the age of 32.
Grunewald was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009. Due to tumors, her salivary gland was removed in 2009 and her thyroid was removed two years later. She had surgery to remove a roughly five-by-six-inch cancerous tumor from her liver on August 26, 2016; a surgical oncologist performed a right hepatectomy to remove the tumor as well as the affected right lobe of her liver. Throughout all this, “Gabe” continued to train and run. She represented the United States at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships and finished in ninth place in the 3000 meters. She was the national champion in the 3000 meters at the 2014 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Grunewald placed 13th in 1500m final at 2015 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Grunewald placed third at 2016 USATF 1 Mile Road Championships and 12th in 1500m final at 2016 United States Olympic Trials.
As she raced and trained, her battle with cancer inspired many in and out of the running world. She spoke openly of her illness and found time to write letters and notes to others who were sick.
“We are heartbroken at the passing of Gabe Grunewald. In her time with Brooks and in all she did, Gabe was brave, inspiring and caring,” said Jim Weber, Brooks Running CEO. “We remember and celebrate the tenacity she brought to the track every time she spiked up and the compassion she shared with runners from all backgrounds. Gabe made our sport better. Our condolences go out to her family, friends and everyone she touched with her story,”
“Thank you Gabe for your inspiration. Your life and your running personified the meaning of perseverance and gratitude. Our love, thoughts and prayers are with Justin and your families,” tweeted Meb Keflezighi.
And Chip Gaines, the host of “Fixer Upper” TV show, who trained with Gabe for the past two years tweeted:
“I knew @gg_runs for less than 2 years, but those weren’t an ordinary 2 years. Time for her was more like jet fuel, and she burned through every drop. I’m going to go on a long jog today in honor of you gabe! and I promise, til we meet again.. to be Brave! #BraveLikeGabe”
In her honor, Gaines raised more than $500,000 in donations to St. Jude’s Hospital, which he matched with a personal donation.