I recently completed two applications for a guaranteed place at the 2010 London Marathon. One was through Diabetes UK and the other Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). I’m getting to know both as a result of my five year old son being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last year.

While I was waiting to hear back from both charities as to whether I had been accepted or not, I received a letter from JDRF acknowledging receipt of my application and thanking me for supporting them.

What was great about the letter was that not only did it give a brief overview of JDRF, but it also started the process of letting me down lightly should I not be fortunate enough to gain a guaranteed place through them:

“We have been overwhelemed by applications for the 2010 London Marathon and we are currently reviewing all applications. Unfortunately we will not be able to provide places for everyone and we will let you know if you have been successful by October 2009.”

I know full well this is a standard letter, but what made it different was the fact that they also included a booklet detailing other JDRF events for 2009 – 2010. So on the one hand preparing me for potential disappointment, but on the other providing me with information about other events I might participate in on their behalf (should I be unsuccessful). Rather than simply letting me go, they sent me something that might actually keep me supporting them. A small and simple gesture, but cleverly thought through.

The other aspect I think that was clever was their understanding of when to use the right channel to deliver a message. The acknowledgement message was sent as a letter – highly personal and it’s still nice to receive a letter that isn’t in a brown envelope with HMRC stamped on it. However, when I received news that I had won a place with JDRF it was sent as an email. Yes, email is a bit more functional and impersonal, but it gave me the feeling that I had received the news more or less as soon as my name was chosen. The email mentioned the fact that a follow-up letter would be on its way shortly with details of what was going to happen next.

So, it’s official I am running the London Marathon 2010 as part of Team Pinggu on behalf of JDRF. It will be my second one and my personal challenge is to run it in four hours or better. I ran my last one in 2000 in 4 hours 40 minutes. Training will start this Sunday and I will try to tweet as I go! May have to give Twitterfone a proper go this time, or even do a few Audioboos. Note to self: remember not to pant heavily into iPhone.

Thanks JDRF and here’s to the coming months of winter training! It’s a small price to pay for the roughly 1,300 injections my son will have over the next six months or so.

PS. I will not be beaten by any rhinos, Uncle Bulgaria or Orinoco this time!

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