Running Community Pays Tribute to Gabriele Grunewald

The 32-year-old national champion and advocate for rare cancer research passed away Tuesday at her home in Minneapolis.

In the wake of Gabe Grunewald’s death Tuesday, the country’s top runners continue to share their memories and reflections of a friend and peer whose legacy extends far beyond the sport she excelled at.

“Like so many of you, I woke up with a heavy heart today,” wrote two-time Olympian and world silver medalist Kara Goucher Wednesday morning. Her comment was posted along with a photo of the moment Gabe became the 2014 USA indoor women’s 3,000-meter champion. Her arms are stretched wide, and her smile even wider. “In this moment she realized she was as good as she dreamt she’d be. She was a national champion and heading to the World Championships. She had no idea of the battle ahead, she was allowed this moment of happiness.”

Kara, like many others, went on to thank Gabe’s husband, Justin, who since June 2 has followed his wife’s brave footsteps and shared their toughest moments with the world. “Thank you Justin for sharing your personal and painful journey with all of us,” she continued. “For letting us in. We are so grateful to have known Gabe and her fight. We will all think of and love her forever.”

She finished her post with a quote Justin wrote on June 10, in a letter to Gabe that he shared on Instagram: “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.”

Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald transcended the sport of running and the accolades of most athletes. She made people smile, believe, fight, endure—and truly live. And as the outpouring of social media messages below show, this world will forever be a better place because of it.

To make a donation to the Brave Like Gabe Foundation or find out more about its mission, visit the website.

Amanda Eccleston, professional runner for Brooks running:

Emma Bates, 2018 U.S. Women’s Marathon Champion:

Mary Wittenberg, former President and CEO of New York Road Runners: 

Carrie Tollefson, 2004 Olympian and elite middle distance runner from St. Paul, Minnesota:

Shalane Flanagan, Olympic silver medalist and 2017 New York Marathon Champion:

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We lost one of the best people in our, or any, sport last night, with the passing of Gabe Grunewald. Throughout her 10 year battle with cancer, Gabe was a fountain of joy, friendship, hope, laughter, and inspiration. The harsh reality she faced did not dim her spirit, but seemed to ignite her love of life. All of us here at BTC were inspired by Gabe and those who met her feel privileged to have done so. On Friday, Portland’s many running clubs will be gathering at 6:30pm at Duniway Track. We’ll run 5k in memorial of Gabe and do our best to honor the values she exemplified: the community and joy of running. If you’re in the area, come out and celebrate a true hero. We encourage all those who might be able to donate to the #BraveLikeGabe Foundation to support rare cancer research.

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Erin Finn, American long-distance runner:

Chip Gaines, host of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” and marathon finisher:

Heather Kampf, professional middle-distance runner and former University of Minnesota teammate: 

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These past few days have hit hard. I kept thinking, why does this feel like such a shock…when we’ve known for so long that this is the natural course for a rare, incurable cancer? It’s because we’re not thinking about the cancer. We’re thinking about Gabe. Vital. Vibrant. The contagiously hopeful fighter, @gigrunewald. It’s a testament to who she is, that made it seem like this time would never come. Even on her worst days she would leave a room brighter and more energized than she found it. If positivity, grit, grace, and love could win the fight against cancer, Gabe wouldn’t have just beaten it, she’d be lapping it. But I want to be clear when I use a word like “winning” because I don’t think this signifies a loss, not for Gabe anyway. She has, and always will be a champion. She fought the good fight, did more than most people could pray to do in a lifetime to inspire others and to serve a meaningful purpose. Gabe gave everything she had, to everything she did- she lived boldly and indeed, bravely. She never took anything for granted (especially not birthdays or PR’s) I always think of her saying how even a .01 PR is a big deal and worth celebrating, because you’re better than you’ve ever been. While it certainly is an immense loss for us to lose Gabe, when it’s her time, I picture her falling into the arms of Jesus, victorious. I imagine her seeing His face and joyfully saying “I did it!” She faithfully ran the difficult course that was set before her with grace, dignity, and strength and has reached her finish line. She has more than won her race, she can fly free now. I feel so blessed to have been Gabe’s teammate, and then to watch #teamGabe grow exponentially through her journey. She’s leaving behind a global community of people who wouldn’t be connected in any other way if it weren’t for her, that’s a beautiful thing. I think we can only hope to honor her legacy in the way we relate to each other, appreciate the big and little things, approach challenges with Gabe’s brand of bravery and hope…and keep doing what we all can do to support the work she started with @bravelikegabe, praying for a world where there is less cancer, and more birthdays.💗

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