MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Professional runner and former Gopher Gabriele Grunewald died Tuesday night after a decade-long battle with a rare cancer.

Grunewald’s husband, Justin, announced his wife’s death on Instagram, saying: “I can’t wait until I get to see you again…my hero, my best friend, my inspiration, my wife.”

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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 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. Your family loves you dearly as do your friends. When @chipgaines made the final push in his #chipinchallenge I could feel your happiness building and could also see that this made you ready to head up to heaven. Chip thanks for helping her to go up so peacefully with no suffering. To everyone else from all ends of the earth, Gabriele heard your messages and was so deeply moved. 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 😪🙏🏻 #keeprunningonhope #bravelikegabe 📸 @pixelcrave 📷 @kohjiro_kinno

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In 2009, Gabriele Grunewald was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, The Star Tribune reports. The day after she got the devastating news, she ran a track meet with the Gophers.

“It was important to me to run,” she told the newspaper. “It’s important to do what you love when you have the opportunity to do it.”

Despite the cancer and surgeries and radiation therapy, Grunewald didn’t stop running or competing.

She placed fourth in the 2012 USA Olympic Trials, and won a USA Championship title in the indoor 3000-meter race.

She had sought to compete in the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

“Being brave, for me, means not giving up on the things that make me feel alive,” Grunewald wrote on the website of her nonprofit, Brave Like Gabe, which raises money for research for rare cancers.

On Wednesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who was friends with Grunewald, proclaimed June 12, 2019 to be “Gabe Grunewald Day” in Minneapolis. Part of his statement read, “Through her passion, advocacy, and bravery, Gabe inspired hope in thousands of athletes, patients living with cancer, cancer survivors, and families.”

Grunewald was born and raised in Perham, Minnesota. She died Tuesday night at her apartment in Minneapolis. She was 32.

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