Annie Coburn, the mother of 10-time U.S. steeplechase champion Emma Coburn, died on January 7, three years after she was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. She was 62.

Writing on Instagram, Emma Coburn said her mother had endured 41 rounds of chemotherapy, 8 major surgeries, seizures and other side effects during the years she underwent treatment.

“In the last 3 years, she didn’t just ‘fight’ her cancer and her diagnosis, she chose to live in vivid color and defy expectations,” Emma Coburn wrote. “To say she showed strength is an incomplete reflection of the courage, positivity, humor, and power of Annie Coburn.”

Coburn was well known in the Colorado running community. She was a regular at the side of the track, cheering on her daughter, including in June 2021 when Emma Coburn won the Olympic Trials and made her third Olympic team. Emma told NBC that evening, “Sharing this with my mom is everything.”

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Coburn frequently hosted Emma’s college teammates from the University of Colorado and training partners from Team Boss at their home in Crested Butte, Colorado, at an elevation of 9,000 feet. She was known for her warm hospitality and incredible cooking.

On December 20, Coburn wrote on her Instagram page that she was at home, surrounded by her family, and not in any pain at all.

“Don’t worry about me,” she wrote. “I’m gonna be just fine. Let’s all be grateful for what we have been given in this incredible life, not what we are ‘losing.’ No one here is losing anything. We have had the privilege of enjoying life. Make the most of yours!”

Coburn is survived by her husband, Bill, their four children, her parents, and several grandchildren.

In 2016, after Emma Coburn won bronze at the Olympic Games in Rio, Coburn and her husband appeared in a brief video for Runner’s World. They explained their family’s “L45” gesture and hashtag on their social media posts. It means “love you forever.” You can watch that video above.

Sarah Lorge Butler

Sarah Lorge Butler is a writer and editor living in Eugene, Oregon, and her stories about the sport, its trends, and fascinating individuals have appeared in Runner’s World since 2005. She is the author of two popular fitness books, Run Your Butt Off! and Walk Your Butt Off!