Sports of The Times: Chemotherapy, Then the U.S. Championships, for Gabriele Grunewald

Candor will not banish fear. But it does give her a sense of agency.

“I’m a young adult with cancer,” Grunewald said. “I don’t always love talking about it. It’s not a made-for-TV movie. It’s real. It’s scary.”

She gives and she receives, and that helps. “I love when people reach out to me, because it helps me get out the door.”

We walked to a tent behind the grandstand. Not so long ago, her life story formed a sweet narrative with a Rocky curlicue.

Grunewald grew up in tiny Perham in Otter Tail County, a three-hour drive northwest of Minneapolis. She rode the bench in basketball. Running, even as temperatures dropped to 10 below and ice formed on her lips, was her freedom.

“Small-town politics could make team sports a headache,” she said. “Running was all about you.”

Photo

Grunewald giving interviews at the Prefontaine Classic. “It’s just kind of rough,” she said of her cancer. “That shadow keeps sneaking in.”

Credit
Chris Low for The New York Times

Grunewald claimed her only state title in her senior…

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