This was a toughie! I went at that first mile hard, and it's a pretty good climb. I like to avoid getting into a hole I can't climb back out of, but when a route starts with a long climb and is only 5mi long, I don't have much of a choice.
I felt like I recovered pretty well though and got rolling up on the mostly flat part. Some big mud puddles to navigate around, a few fallen trees, but nothing too big. The main difficulty for me was the leaves obscuring the trail. It's not a very technical route but it is pretty rocky where the dirt has eroded away, and the leaves made it hard to tell where the ankle rollers were. Normally I rock on technical descents but I wasn't able to let loose for fear of rolling my ankle while descending too hard and fast to correct it. Not worth an injury to shave off another minute or two, so I'm happy with how this went overall. I was aiming for 50-55mins, just kind of wanted to get a time that would have made it onto the men's board at one time or another. So low 51 is a win!
There's a really nice mile of fire road, the easiest part of the whole run, about mile 4. That was a welcome surprise.
This can definitely go faster on a dry, leafless day... but I have to forget how much that first climb sucks before I will be at all tempted to do it again myself.