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Roseville teacher will join local run from Iraq

Guard member determined not to miss annual event

While most participants in Roseville Area Schools' 623 Walk/Run on Saturday will be winding through parks, Jeff Bibeau's route will be a bit tougher.

He'll be in a war zone.

Bibeau, a history teacher at Roseville Area Middle School and a captain in the Minnesota National Guard, is stationed in Balad, Iraq, about 50 miles north of Baghdad.

He, along with some of his fellow Soldiers, will be running a 6.23-kilometer race much like the one students, teachers and others will run in Roseville. But Bibeau, 39, will be running under the roar of helicopters and jets at Joint Base Balad more than 6,000 miles away.

"While the Roseville event is quite scenic and takes participants through a meandering tour of lakes and parks, our run will be mainly sand, concrete and barbed wire," Bibeau wrote in an e-mail.

He tries to run the race every year if it doesn't conflict with military training, and he didn't want to miss an opportunity to connect with his students in Roseville.

"That was the initial reason I wanted to run it," he wrote. "I miss my job."

His tour in Iraq is scheduled to end next summer.

Bibeau has been a teacher at Roseville Area Middle School for nine years. He joined the Minnesota National Guard seven years ago and is currently stationed with the human resources section of the 834th Aviation Support Battalion of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade.

Bibeau has run in every race held on base while he has been there. The Roseville race will be his second of the day.

He proposed running the race in Iraq to Jan Vanderwall, transportation and wellness coordinator for the school district. Vanderwall liked the idea and waived Bibeau's participation fee.

Vanderwall, who started the race 22 years ago as a wellness and community event, said it drew 570 participants last year.

"I wanted to do a race in November so people can find out that you can go outdoors and get hot even though the temperature is cold," he said. Temperatures Saturday are expected to be in the 30s.

"It's funny because every year there are first-time people that come wearing their down coats, and when they get to the finish line, they're carrying them," he said.

There will be no down coat for Bibeau. Temperatures in Iraq are forecast in the 80s.

Andy Rathbun can be reached at 651-228-2121.

If You Go
What: Roseville Area Schools' 22nd annual 623 Walk/Run.
When: 9 a.m. Saturday. Registration will be held from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.
Where: Begins at Emmet D. Williams Elementary School, 955 County Road D W., and ends at Roseville Area High School, 1240 County Road B-2 W.
Cost: $15 ($8 for students) includes a long-sleeved T-shirt.}

By Andy Rathbun
Article Last Updated: 11/05/2008 11:14:52 PM CST

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