Thursday, February 02, 2012

My first marathon - USP / POD ?

I am trying to raise some money for two charities as part of my attempt at completing my first ever marathon, and it has begun to strike me that I don't have a modern USP (unique selling point) or POD (point of difference). That I lack that X-factor-style (reality show-style) heart rending back story. It used to be very much the case that anyone running a marathon (any marathon not even a major city marathon) would inspire awe and instant sponsorship if doing it for a cause.

So I asked myself a series of 'devils adovcate'-type questions and pondered answers:-
What's your motivation? - Well, at its simplest - the satisfaction of a long held personal goal and the gratification of raising some money for charity.

How is your challenge sell'able? - in many ways it isn't, I am not running 10 in 10 weeks, running from one end of the country to the other, or even running an 'uncommon' distance. I am running one marathon (possibly my only one) to test my strength of resolve and encourage colleagues, friends and family to consider my chosen charities.

So the charities are close to your personal experience? - actually, no, they are extremely worthy charities that I have experience of through my workplace/s. I haven't directly suffered from either Huntington's or cancer. A member of my immediate family died of cancer but that isn't all that uncommon to anyone within a relatively wide family. I once worked as a care worker helping a guy with Huntington's disease and I have met families through an open-day in the workplace, but those are the limits of my personal experience.

So what is different about your challenge? - Well, no I don't consider that there is anything 'different'. I have lost a lot of weight over a period of nearly ten years that was initiated by running and aerobics in the beginning (losing over 25 kg, or 4 stone in weight). I have experiences with the diseases the charities seek to alleviate as part of being a scientist researching aspects of both diseases as part of two separate contracts. So I am just a guy attempting to run 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards), a marathon for charity.

Surely you have a challenge within your challenge? - No, I am not running in a costume, running while juggling, running backwards, or any other extra challenge. The challenge for me is to complete the long training program around work and my family life, and to complete the event with a big smile without breaking myself.

Hmm, so you are just running a marathon? - Yes, after a few years of failing to win a place in the London Marathon ballot, and knowing that meeting a charity place minimum fundraising target would take an effort that would affect my work, I chose to find another marathon and challenge myself to complete the distance.

Milton Keynes? - Yeah, it is their first effort at holding a marathon in Milton Keynes and that seemed to resonate with the fact that it will also be my first effort at a marathon. I have been there a couple of times and think it will be a brilliant place for a marathon.

Good luck with your challenge - Thanks, I am running for...

The Huntington's Disease Association
Cancer Research UK
This line of thinking was inspired by a couple replies I had from public relations people in my workplace after I sent around a mass email asking for sponsorship. I got to thinking about how likely I was to get sponsorship and whether in all actuality my run was in any way 'truly' noteworthy. I hope that there are enough people out there who aren't as cynical as the little voice in my head saying "dude, you're just running a marathon!".

Only time will tell, and on reflection I don't have a target for fundraising in the first place so I shouldn't feel so very bothered about how notable or otherwise the whole effort is (in fact I am probably missing another USP there). I am only perhaps sad that such an undertaking by anyone is currently perceived as 'minor' compared to the much reported efforts of 'celebs' walking across the Antarctic, cycling across Europe, or even running a marathon... every day for weeks.

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