Gabe Grunewald, a professional middle distance runner for Brooks, last competed at the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento in June 2017 while undergoing chemotherapy. After 14 months of treatment, Grunewald will make her return to the track when she competes at the Ed Murphey Mile in Memphis on Saturday.
Grunwald, 32, has battled cancer four times in her life. Her first cancer diagnosis, adenoid cystic carcinoma on her parotid gland, came in 2009 when she was 22 years old and competing for the University of Minnesota. In 2010, she was diagnosed and treated with thyroid cancer. An Aug. 2016 CT scan on her liver showed a metastatic recurrence of the adenoid cystic carcinoma. She had about half of her liver removed and was believed to be cancer-free following surgery until a March 2018 follow up scan showed small tumors in Grunewald's liver. She started chemotherapy again in June in response. Throughout the treatment, she continued to train and raced in the 1,500 meters at the U.S. Championships.
Grunwald's cancer battle and journey was profiled by Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden in July 2017.
“Right now it is a huge victory to have a little bit of fitness and the goal is to reacquaint myself with the whole concept of racing and use this as a springboard into more fitness this fall,” Grunewald said in a statement. “There is still a lot to be gained from feeling the burn of racing again and finding that competitive fire that isn't quite the same in practice. Training can be fun but I've always been more excited about having races on the calendar, so the next few months will be focused on gaining fitness in a smart way and enjoying the thrill of racing again.”
In addition to this weekend's race, Grunewald reportedly plans to race at the Hoka One One Long Island Mile in September and the U.S. 5K Championships in New York in November.