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Runner stories

Brave Like Gabe

Gabe Grunewald in a Brooks Beasts top
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Gabe Grunewald was a cancer fighter and pro runner at the highest levels of the sport. She was also an inspiration who taught many to be hopeful, resilient, and brave. In honour of her passing in 2019, we remember her life and legacy by supporting the Brave Like Gabe Foundation in the fight against rare cancers.

Professional runner. Relentless optimist

In 2010, Brooks had the honour of signing one of the most vibrant young talents on the track: a senior from the University of Minnesota named Gabriele (“Anderson”) Grunewald. For almost a decade, we watched Gabe compete at the highest levels around the world, winning a U.S. title and crushing 1,500m and 3,000m races.

Gabe crossing the finish line of a race

In 2009, Gabe was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma. In 2014, she won the 3,000m at the U.S. Indoor Championships. We will forever remember her smile as she crossed that finish line.

Gabe lived two lives for ten years: one as a runner, and another as a cancer fighter. She was first diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma as a student athlete at University of Minnesota in 2009. At times she was so sick she couldn’t run a step. But Gabe remained a tenacious competitor.

The next year, she was runner-up in the NCAA championships. In 2012, she placed fourth in the Olympic Trials. And in 2014, she won the 3,000m at the U.S. Indoor Championships. We will forever remember her smile as she crossed that finish line.

In addition to her accomplishments on the track, her friends and family, and her training partner husband Justin Grunewald, Gabe leaves behind her enduring, determined, and beautiful positivity.

Gabe and her husband looking at each other on a bridge

Gabe and her husband Justin were longtime training partners, going back to their time at the University of Minnesota. Justin is an accomplished runner and an important part of the Brave Like Gabe Foundation.

"Brave Like Gabe” is the name of her foundation dedicated to fighting rare cancers. It’s a more than fitting name, because her life wasn’t just about running — it was about helping others find opportunities to live full lives, despite their own hardships.

Her legacy is much more than being a runner.

Gabe smiling while talking with a group of people
Gabe rocking a scar across her abdomen while at practice

For most, the only clue Gabe was sick was a long scar across her abdomen — the result of major surgery in 2016 to treat a recurrence of cancer in her liver. Though the scar was visible, Gabe’s wide smile and large laugh commanded all of our attention.

Running on hope

Gabe Grunewald’s legacy lives on as the Brave Like Gabe Foundation. Brooks is donating US$100,000 to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center on behalf of the Foundation, in support of the Brave Fellowship. This fellowship, which Brooks has supported since 2020, was created to develop current and future leaders who will continue to advocate for a diverse and inclusive biomedical research workforce specifically focused on rare cancer research. Click here to learn more about what Gabe stood for, and how you can stand with her cause.

I used to think that a life with cancer would be a life lived in grayscale. The lows in my everyday existence would be dark and cavernous; the highs would be a little lighter, but never as bright as they used to be. Over the years, I’ve challenged that notion with unexpected triumphs and lots of joy in between the struggles, but never saw it as clearly as I did today. Today I can tell you that this life with a rare, uncurable cancer, on certain, special days, can be a life lived in technicolour.”

Gabe Grunewald at the first Brave Like Gabe 5K in 2017

Brooks has also partnered with Gabe’s loved ones to create the newest Brave Like Gabe Collection — gear inspired by Gabe’s determination to “live life in technicolour.” Celebrate Gabe’s light through the collection, and by joining us in the thing she loved most: a run.

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Gabe Runwald running

Miles for Gabe

Gabe taught us the power of putting one foot in front of the other. Let us know how many miles you ran today by filling out a mileage card and posting it to your Instagram story. Be sure to tag @BrooksRunning and @BraveLikeGabe, and use #BraveLikeGabe.

Brave Like Gabe cards