Was a new course, so the pre-race plans / research went out the window.
New course was two 2-mile loops. First .25 up a slight hill. Next half mile pretty level. Last 0.25 (or so) up a gd mountain. Second mile is downhill to the start.
Got out easy enough, and tried to keep it controlled on the uphill. Hit the level section a little harder than I should have. Hit the mountain and tried to keep it relaxed. Then destroyed the downhill. After the first loop I was chasing two guys, about 50m and 60m ahead. Finally started gaining on them going up the mountain. Caught one about the 3.5 mark for 5-10 seconds before he surged ahead. Finally reached the last 400m still chasing both guys by 20m. Dropped the adrenaline and crushed past one guy (actually heard him give up). Running the last 200m all out and step-for-step with the second guy. We must have gone back and forth 5-6 times. Finally, I ran out of room and he had the half step on me. I have not sprinted that hard since I was 10 years old.
*New course. About 40-45s slower than old course.
Just need to learn to run xc and hills. I may have been fitter than both those guys.
21 out of 43. Pretty happy to be in the top half.