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Photo of Charles Kimbangi holding his London Marathon vest

Running the race

On 23rd August 2016 my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Just 31 days later, on 24th September 2016, he died. I was left stunned, confused, and devastated. I knew that death was real and that people die each day, but I had never lost someone so close to me. It was a surreal experience and for a long time it felt like I was in a dream and any moment I was going to wake up and my dad would be alive again.

I was also shocked at just how fast it happened and this left me asking questions: How did it happen so fast? Could it have been prevented? Why has this happened to him? All these questions were asked and many more.

However, in trying to understand pancreatic cancer better, I discovered that it is very hard to diagnose and that it currently has a 5 year survival rate of just 5 per cent. Put simply, pancreatic cancer is lethal!

But I wanted to help make a difference. I wanted to raise awareness so that things might be improved. This led me to running the London Marathon 2017!

The London Marathon has grown in popularity since its inception in 1981 and has now become an iconic event. 2017 saw a record 40,000 runners hit the streets of London to take on the 26.2 mile course, which includes landmarks such as Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. It’s simply one of the best races in the world and I wanted to do it for two reasons.

Charles Kimbangi running in the London Marathon

Firstly, I wanted to do it in memory of my Dad – Boniface Kimbangi. He was a man who loved Jesus and loved his fellow man. Despite the challenges he faced growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he devoted himself to serving other people. Throughout his life this meant housing people who needed shelter, giving money to people to help fund their education, and sending large shipping containers full of helpful resources back to Congo to help the community. These are just a few examples of how my dad persevered, lived life in service of others and left an incredible legacy behind.

Secondly, I wanted to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK. The charity supports those affected by the disease, invests in expert research to help change the way pancreatic cancer is diagnosed and treated, and campaigns to raise awareness so that pancreatic cancer gets the recognition it requires. I just wanted to play a small role in helping any future pancreatic cancer suffers.

The London Marathon 2017 ended up being one of the best days of my life. It took months of training to reach the start line, but when I got there I felt sharp, confident and ready to run. People who have run the marathon before always talk about the support from the crowd and the incredible atmosphere. I can tell you first hand, the environment created by the crowds made the whole experience worthwhile. I was cheered on throughout the whole race and finished in a satisfying time of 3 hours, 24 minutes and 44 seconds. Not only that, but I raised over £4000 for Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Throughout the whole experience, I have been reminded that the apostle Paul described life as being like a race. He says: ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.’

My dad loved Jesus and ran his race with an eye on the crown that will last forever. Now he has finished his race and I can’t wait to see him again at the finish line…

 
Charles Kimbangi

Charles Kimbangi
02 May 2017




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