Gabriele Grunewald accepted into U.S. Champs, racing amid chemotherapy

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Gabriele Grunewald underwent chemotherapy infusions the last two weeks. Next week, she will race at the USATF Outdoor Championships (Summer Champions Series).

Grunewald, battling cancer for the fourth time since 2009, was accepted into the 1500m for nationals, USA Track and Field announced Friday.

Grunewald had not met the automatic qualifying time of 4:09.50, but she ranked 24th in the U.S. standings in the last year with a best time of 4:11.86. USA Track and Field can extend national fields beyond automatic qualifiers to 30 or more runners.

Grunewald, who just missed the 2012 Olympic team by finishing fourth at Trials, was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer, in 2009 and underwent surgery. It was later found again in her thyroid a year later and her liver both last August, leaving a 13-inch scar across her stomach, and then in March.

Grunewald delayed chemotherapy this spring in a bid to automatically qualify for nationals.

She raced five times on the track with a best time of 4:12.29. Her most recent attempt to hit the qualifying mark came last Saturday, four days after her first chemotherapy treatment. She ran 4:28.88.

“I was feeling pretty good with almost zero side effects from my first infusion so I thought I’d give the US standard one more ‘go’ at the Music City Distance Carnival [in Nashville],” was posted on Grunewald’s Instagram. “It. was. tough! Even though I felt normal on my warmup and during my little workout two days before the race, I just didn’t feel like myself out there. I was okay through about 800 but then the wheels fell off —dramatically and abruptly — after that. I’ve never thought to myself, ‘wow, a lap to go seems really far’ in a 1500, but there’s a first time for everything! It was truly a disaster in terms of running fast but I feel satisfied in giving it a shot.”

Expect to see Grunewald toe the line for the 1500m first round Thursday night on NBC Sports Gold. The 12-woman final is two days later.

Three days after that, Grunewald will begin round 2 of chemotherapy, according to Women’s Running.

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