MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — From their apartment overlooking their favorite running trails along the Mississippi, Gabriele Grunewald’s husband Justin is living his first day without his wife.
“I ran last night shortly after she passed,” he said.
To most people, Justin’s wife, who many called “Gabe,” was known as a world-class runner.
She was the 11th fastest American ever to run the 1500 and set numerous records. She also narrowly missed the 2012 Olympic Team — all while battling cancer.
“She also never really wanted to be the girl that had cancer and ran. She just wanted to be a runner,” Justin said.
Gabe’s diagnosis fueled her professional running career and she raced while receiving active treatment.
“She had like two thirds of her liver basically removed and a massive scar across her abdomen which is her trademark kind of, that scar,” Justin said.
Along her journey, she attracted celebrity attention and fundraising power for her foundation Brave Like Gabe.
“Sometimes we’d stop on the river road and shed a few tears on a bad day of doctoring, but she’s just super brave,” Justin said.
She passed along that bravery to so many others fighting battles, but lost her own Tuesday night as she was surrounded by family in her home.
“The whole family was here crying and holding her and hugging her,” Justin said.
While the world recalls her inspiring spirit, Justin admires a favorite photo: out for a run with Gabe on a day the doctor delivered bad news.
“When you have a bad day, sometimes the last thing you want to do is go for a run. Sometimes all you can do is go for a run,” Justin said.
And that’s just what Justin will do.
“I’m going to run 14.05 miles today just because her favorite number was 1405,” Justin said.
Because that’s what Gabe would do.
“The most important part of her story is just her message to never give up,” Justin said.