Kawasaki Moto Marathon For the Cure

February 16, 2010
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Kawasaki Moto Marathon for the Cure
Supercross stars and moto celebrities turned out, along with 75 riders fortunate enough to claim a spot in Kawasaki’s Moto Marathon For the Cure.

Kawasaki Green turned Pink for breast cancer awareness last weekend, with the Moto Marathon for the Cure at its Irvine, California headquarters. Running in conjunction with the Feb. 13th Anaheim Supercross race theme of Breast Cancer Awareness, the Kawasaki event provided free off-road riding instruction for new riders. Participants in the 24-hour instruction marathon, held the day prior to the A3 race, made a donation to breast cancer research and the San Diego Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure.

A total of 75 riders signed up for the event, with more than $2500 raised. Alongside the newbie riders, celebrities and Kawasaki factory Supercross riders were in attendance. And so was Motorcycle USA, with our correspondent Angela Guerrero (of MCUSA Angela’s Angels fame) checking out the scene and getting her moto skills up to speed aboard the Kawasaki KLX140.

Moto Marathon Instruction

During the 24-hour marathon period, five training schools were offered, with the four-hour introductory courses delivering the fundamental riding basics. Kawasaki provided the bikes, with a stable of KLX140, 110 and 250S mdoels. Riders learned the ropes on dirt tracks adjoining the Kawi HQ. A host of

Instructors for the 24-hour instruction classes included Andrea Beach and Bonnie Warch from Coach 2 Ride.
Instructors from different organizations, including Coach 2
Ride (above) pitched in time for the breast cancer cause.

Kawasaki Moto Marathon for the CureKawasaki Moto Marathon for the Cure
MCUSA’s own Angela Guerrero took the introductory dirt riding
course, one of 75 riders to get free instruction on the day.

coaches led the classes including the good folks at Coach 2 Ride, as well as Kawasaki’s Women Motocross star Tanya Satchewell and fellow Kawasaki employees trained as instructors.

Andrea Beach and Bonnie Warch, the founders of Coach 2 Ride, provided guidance for many of the entry-level riders, including our own. Riders started the course learning the basics, Motorcycle 101 stuff like operating the controls and proper off-road riding positioning. From there it’s on to turning, braking and getting up to speed. By the end of the class riders have graduated to more advanced techniques like charging up and down hills.

We’ve attended a past Coach 2 Ride event and can personally vouch for the challenging yet encouraging tutorial. Overall the course is quite informative and a great introduction to getting dirty on two wheels. Our girl Angela agreed when talking about the training experience at Kawasaki’s Moto Marathon:

“This was great a opportunity for new riders to learn the basics of riding from great teachers and all for a great cause. Not to mention the ever-so-supportive Kawasaki staff-cheering on both the new riders and more experienced alike. The day definitely gave me the security of knowing the fundamentals to riding and whetted my appetite for more!”

Kawasaki Moto Marathon for the Cure
Team Green’s Supercross stars showed up for the marathon one day prior to A3, seen here with Kawasaki USA president Takeshi Teranishi (left to right: Nick Wey, Jake Weimer, Teranishi, Ryan Villopoto).

Celebrities and Factory Riders on Hand

Supporting the marathon festivities, alongside Kawasaki staff, were factory Supercross stars Ryan Villopoto and Jake Weimer, along with Nick Wey (filling in for the injured Chad Reed). All were on hand for a private autograph session with the young fans. The good karma paid off the next day for the current Supercross title contenders, with Villopoto taking the Supercross A3 victory and Weimer retaining his sizable points lead in the Lites class.

Alongside Satchwell, another Kawasaki women’s MX star turning laps at the Moto Marathon event was Kawasaki’s Sara Price, who finished her rookie WMX season with a fourth-place overall. Kawasaki USA president Takeshi Teranishi was also in attendance, cheering on the cause.

Kawasaki Moto Marathon for the Cure
Kawasaki’s rising WMX star Sara Price, alongside MotoUSA’s Angela Guerrero.

Other familiar friends of Team Green lent support, including television personality Molly Culver (most will remember her from the campy detective show VIP with Pamela Anderson, as well as current Chase Bank commercials) as well as longtime Speed TV racing correspondent and former host of 2Wheel Tuesday, Greg White.

Once the training was over, participants were also treated to a track walk at the Anaheim 3 race, as well as a behind the scenes pit tour.

Raising Breast Cancer Awareness

Getting new riders trained delivered the fun, but the Moto Marathon raised money for a sobering cause. According to the CDC, breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women. It is also the second most common cause of cancer death (following lung cancer). An estimated 192,000 women will be diagnosed and more than 40,000 deaths attributed to the disease in 2009 alone (based on statistics from the National Cancer Institute).

There are few who have not been touched personally by the disease either directly or through a loved one. This holds true for Kawasaki Public Relations Manager Jan Plessner, organizer of the Moto Marathon campaign:

Kawasaki Moto Marathon for the Cure
Kawasaki media maven Jan Plessner (left) posing with fellow Team Green Marathon participant. Spots for the Marathon filled immediately with more than 100 on the waiting list. Plessner says more events could be forthcoming.

“I haven’t had breast cancer, but my mom was a breast cancer survivor and it really affected the family. She got great treatment and a lot of support and some of her best years were after the breast cancer, so it was very touching and it was great to have a lot of support. So I always think about her when we’re doing something like this.”

Plessner went on to say of the breast cancer cause, “Everybody knows somebody who’s affected by it, so it’s something that we can all relate to it I think. It’s just a great cause, I’m really happy that Anaheim 3 is dedicated to breast cancer awareness.”

Other events at the Anaheim 3 Supercross round included various auctions and team riders wearing pink. Fans were encouraged to get into the spirit too by wearing pink. The A3 events, including Kawasaki’s, went to support the San Diego Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day, a 60-mile fundraiser walk – all of which raises money for the Komen for the Cure organization (www.komen.org). To date the Komen for the Cure non-profit has contributed almost $1.5 billion to breast cancer research and community programs.

For Shasta Johnson, one of the main organizers of the Supercross Go Pink events and a participant in the Kawasaki Moto Marathon, the breast cancer cause is an intensely personal one.

Kawasaki Moto Marathon for the Cure
Shasta Johnson (right) alongside Kawasaki US President Takeshi Teranishi. Johnson is a breast cancer survivor and organizer for the Supercross Go Pink events.

“I am a breast cancer survivor, and not only am I a survivor but I also lost my sister a little over a year and half ago before I was diagnosed. She was 29 and after battling breast cancer for a few years she lost the fight and passed away. Then I was diagnosed when I was 35, so it is something that’s really near and dear to my heart, definitely,” said Jackson at the Moto Marathon. “I have been cancer free, what I’m hoping is going to be two years. I just actually had my scans yesterday before coming up here and hoping the results are going to say I’m cancer free for two years.”

When asked as a survivor what she thought the most important message from the Go Pink campign is Jackson said: “Early detection saves lives. So if you think something’s going on with your body that’s different than what you know yourself to be true, then go to the doctor and find out.”

Kawasaki Moto Marathon for the Cure
The Moto Marathon stretched into the wee morning hours, with classes at 8 a.m, 1 p.m., 6 p.m., 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.

That’s what “raising awareness” is all about. Breast cancer, like many cancers, has a high survival rate when caught early. Riders should get checked and encourage their loved ones to do the same.

All told, the Kawasaki Moto Marathon was a grand success – with 75 new riders getting into the sport and money raised for the cure. The event also went off without any incident, with every participant finishing safe and sound. The response was overwhelming too. Plessner said all openings for the 24-hour event filled up immediately after announcement, with more than 100 people on the waiting list. She promises Kawasaki will be running more training weekends through the summer.

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