The husband of decorated American long-distance runner Gabriele Grunewald announced on Instagram Tuesday evening that his wife had passed away at age 32, ending her long-fought battle with cancer since she was first diagnosed a decade ago.
“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. @gigrunewald,” Justin Grunewald wrote in an emotional post alongside a picture of him and his wife running together.
“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,” he continued. The 32-year-old athlete known as “Gabe” was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer of the salivary glands, in 2009.
Despite her illness, she continued to run for the University of Minnesota to win national championships and placed fourth in the 1,500 meter race in the 2012 Olympic trials. She was the U.S. indoor champion in the 3,000 in 2014, and continued to run despite the cancer spreading to her thyroid and liver in 2017.
Grunewald was hospitalized with a septic infection last week that caused her liver to fail. Her husband called for supporters to send “one last message” to his wife using the #braveforgabe after she was moved to comfort care on Sunday. She returned to her home in Minneapolis on Monday where she spent her last days with family and friends.
“To everyone else from all ends of the earth, Gabriele heard your messages and was so deeply moved,” Justin Grunewald, who is also a fellow runner and an internal medicine physician, wrote Tuesday thanking supporters for their kind words.
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“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,” he wrote, concluding the post with the hashtags #keeprunningonhope and #braveforgabe.