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Brave Like Gabe Foundation founder, cancer research advocate and USATF national champion Gabe Grunewald dies at 32


INDIANAPOLIS -- USATF mourns the loss of professional athlete, cancer research advocate and 2014 USATF Indoor national champion Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald, who passed away Tuesday evening at age 32 following a decade long battle with cancer.

Grunewald was surrounded by family and friends at her home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Gabriele ‘Gabe’ Grunewald embodied true determination, dedication and commitment in every facet of her life,” USATF said in a statement. “She will be remembered as one of the bravest athletes we knew. Her legacy lives on as she inspired a world of people. She will be missed. Our condolences to her husband Justin, her family, friends, teammates, and loved ones.”

Born Gabriele Anderson on June 25, 1986 in Perham, Minnesota, she pursued running as a walk on at the University of Minnesota in 2004. In her time as a Minnesota Gopher, she was a part of several Big Ten Championship squads and ended her career as an NCAA track & field All-American with a runner-up finish in the 1500-meters in 2010, her final collegiate race.

After being diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2009 and thyroid cancer in 2010, Grunewald signed professionally with Brooks in 2010. Following her first bouts with cancer, Gabe placed fourth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials - Track & Field. The 2014 USATF Indoor Champion in the women’s 3,000m, she represented Team USATF at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Poland, and then in 2016 placed third at the USATF 1 Mile Championships. Her PR in the 1500m ranks as the 11th fastest in U.S. history (4:01.48).

Gabe experienced recurrences of the rare salivary gland cancer, adenoid cystic carcinoma in 2016 and 2017, and credited physical activity with helping her survive. Based on her experiences, she was inspired to establish the Brave Like Gabe Foundation in 2018 to support rare cancer research and empower cancer survivors through physical activity.

“From the very first day I was told I had cancer in 2009, I knew running would be a big part of my journey back to health,” Grunewald said of starting her foundation. “It has truly been my refuge; when everything else seems to be going wrong and the outcomes are far beyond my control, I can find perspective and hope on the run… Brave Like Gabe aims to inspire and support everyone on their personal fitness journey.”

In 2017, she spoke on the importance of cancer research ahead of the USATF Outdoor Championships as part of USATF’s partnership with the American Cancer Society. She later partnered with HGTV star Chip Gaines on his training to prepare for the Silo District Marathon, and earlier this year helped raise more than $300,000 for rare cancer research.

Grunewald is survived by her husband, Justin Grunewald, who announced his wife’s passing on social media. The Grunewalds have received an outpouring of support in recent days as Justin encouraged fans to share their stories on social media using #BraveLikeGabe.

Donations benefiting rare cancer research centers including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center can be made in Gabe’s honor at

Deena Kastor on Twitter: “Dear @gg_runs, Wishing you peace and the wings you so deserve. @JustinGrunewald, Thousands of people are grateful for your own courage and are sending you love ... feel it overflowing in your big, big heart.”

Molly Huddle on Instagram: “We love you Gabe. Thank you for not being afraid to use your voice, for not being afraid to grip a slippery thing like hope and ride it for years, for not being afraid to show your scars or race while on cancer treatment or start something new and big like the Brave Like Gabe Foundation or to speak to rooms full of people about your story or for not letting fear stop you from doing anything really. You are a warrior woman and you’ve touched countless hearts. It’s an honor to share not just the running world but this time on the globe with you. I salute you with every spiked stride on the track.”

Emma Bates on Instagram: “A small town girl from Perham who made a name for herself running for the University of Minnesota. A woman that a little girl from Elk River saw on posters and the sports pages of magazines and local newspapers. An icon that helped ignite a dream for a high schooler to pursue athletics in college. A fighter that would not let anything stand in the way of her dreams. A beacon of strength, perseverance, hope, and bravery. A heroine for countless people facing difficult circumstances. A symbol of everything that is pure and good in this world. A legend that lived life to the fullest capacity. @gigrunewald you were an idol to me the moment I started running, over the years you have become so much more. You were a gift to us all.”

Kara Goucher on Instagram: Gabe and Justin have shown so much strength and grace during Gabe’s battle with cancer. She has taught us all to be determined, strong, and to never give up. She has been such an inspiration to me and to countless others. Please read Justin’s post below and then leave a message of strength, love, or hope for Gabe and Justin. Let’s let them see how many people they have behind them. Linked in my bio is an incredible piece about Gabe and her bravery written by Tim Layden. Take the time to read it and then let’s support these two! #bravelikegabe

Chip Gaines on Twitter: To @gg_runs. We love you. You changed us forever, and til we meet again we promise to be #BraveLikeGabe...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


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