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Runners embrace Gabriele Grunewald, who’s between chemo, at USAs

The 30-year-old Brooks runner is slated to resume chemotherapy treatment on Tuesday

Gabriele Grunewald

In what is sure to be one of the most memorable moments of the United States Outdoor Track (USATF) Championships, Gabriele Grunewald competed in the women’s 1,500m on Thursday. Grunewald, for the fourth time in the past eight years, is undergoing chemotherapy for a rare form of cancer.

Out of contention for the final two laps, the crowd in Sacramento, Calif. cheered an emotional Grunewald to the finish. After the race, competitors embraced her in a group hug sharing a few words amongst each other. The 30-year-old finished ninth in her heat (4:31.18) at nationals and did not advance through to the finals.

In 2009, Grunewald was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, which spread to her liver from her salivary gland, according to the News & Record.

According to NBC Sports, she won’t compete again in 2017 but hopes to return to competition in 2018. The Minnesota-based runner represents Brooks.


Post-race interview

“Everything about this hurt,” she wrote on Instagram. “Everything about this felt good. I never knew a broken heart could be so whole. Cancer slowed me down, but I haven’t let it stop me. Track, I’ll be back. ❤️ The post-race support/prayer/group embrace was an amazing moment showcasing the #sisterhood among us competitors. We push each other in every race, but we also care deeply about one another. I am overwhelmed with the support of these women and everyone in the stadium last night. Thank you.”


Grunewald is expected to resume chemotherapy on Tuesday in Minneapolis.