We joined a crowd of about 80 runners and walkers (inappropriately interspersed) at the start line, at the top of a small hill, and tried to listen to the RD give a description of the course as the wind blew his words out to sea. There was one reference to a second lap, but I think what I heard best was other runners saying "we can't hear you back here".
The first few hundred yards were a gradual down slope on a grass path and I immediately regretted taking a conservative start position as I was weaving through the people who didn't belong at the front of the pack. The course then made a 90 degree turn onto a paved road and continued the downward slope for another few hundred yards before flattening out. I continued to work my way through iPod wearing runners who were already starting to slow down. My original plan was to run the first lap conservatively, then run hard on the second lap, but for some reason I hate running behind people with iPods so I pushed a little harder in that first mile.
We passed a few trail heads along the road and I wished we had been given the opportunity to turn off. My X-Talon's were craving dirt. After about 3/4 of a mile we finally did turn off the pavement and followed a path along the edge of a field. At this point I was probably in 15th place but once we hit the trail I made a little more effort to pick off a few runners who seemed a little less prepared to deal with the slight irregularities of terrain that the trail offered. We passed more inviting trail heads that headed deeper into the woods, but the course kept us on the short cut grass path of the fields. At about 1.25 miles we turned onto a gravel road and made a slight climb back near the start area and began our second lap.
When we reached the gravel road I knew there was only about 1/4 mile left and it was all ever so slightly uphill. Not enough of a slope to justify slowing down, but enough that I felt it hard to pick up the pace for a fast finish. The last thing I wanted was to get passed this close to the end after running a pretty good race, I have no idea what my splits were but no one had passed me yet during the race and I certainly didn't want it to happen here. One final turn onto the grassy trail lead to the finish and then I was done. I heard the RD call out my time as I crossed the finish line, 19:35.
GOOGLE MAP OF THE RACE COURSE