27 turns in the 5k, including a 90 degree turn 50 meters into the race. The loop not only crossed itself (400 meters in) but it also crossed the 10k and 2k and at time ran against the 10k course. It was UGLY!
I went off course during the warm-up and knew it might be an issue when I was doing strides and noticed a volunteer re-marking the first little loop, then unmarking it because it was marked in the wrong direction. Before the start they were telling the 5k runners to line up BEHIND the 10k runners because "the 10k runners are the serious racers". I tried to dig up the race director (before and after the race) and no one could tell me where the RD was.
I took the lead right away and had 30 seconds by 1/2 mile when we moved away from the 2k runners. At about 3/4 mile (there were no mile markers on the course) I was directed to go straight and 10k runners went left. I was pretty sure this was wrong but the volunteer was directing everyone and he was one of the rare volunteers who was actually saying ANYTHING. At all other junctions I'd ask "which way for the 5k". At about 9 minutes in when I asked at a turn the gal seemed quite surprised but eventually told me to turn right. A few minutes later I came out on the main road and realized I was nowhere near where I should be. I asked which way for the 5k and the volunteers all had no idea (I was on the 10k course), one runner noted "this happened last year" as I turned around and headed back. I got onto the course again and found my way to the last 3/4 of a mile.
In the last 50 meters I took off my number and ran to the finish (16:35). I told them I was not directed correctly and didn't want to be in the results (disqualified). Later I realized that probably no one in either race ran the correct course so maybe I should have taken the win :-)
Anyway, lesson learned I will not go to a race that I don't already know about. $20 and 200 miles of driving and the result was a 3 mile workout. Man was I pissed, although I felt a lot better after a nice relaxing run in Concord NH and a visit to the Oak hill firetower!