In creating the course, we tried to strike a balance between challenging regular racers while still being doable by weekend riders. If you can do the famous Blue and Green trails in Timberland easily, you should be ok on the more difficult sections of the Trail 2018 - notably the Trail 1000 Black Diamond. If you're not sure, join one of the recon rides first. If you've never been on singletrack before, this race isn't for you.
Racing with others of your ability is part of the fun of racing. Its also no fun trying to pass, or being passed, on singletrack (especially the cliffside singletrack of the blue trail). You might say the ultimate goal of a wave start is to minimize overtaking.
Instead of choosing a wave, you choose an average speed. Unlike a wave, an average speed doesn't get closed out, so you can be assured of starting with everyone who chose the same average speed as you did. Last year people who registered after waves closed were forced to choose waves that did not reflect their average speed.
Of course you can - just agree to sign up for the same speed when you register - the speed of the slowest in your group. You probably intend to wait for each other and finish together anyway.
Due to the expected large volume of riders and the unequal distribution of ability in each category, doing so will result in riders in the lead of a category wave running into the tail of the prior wave, which we want to avoid, especially on the singletrack.
Your race time is based on the time you finish, minus the time your wave started. So even if you start 30 minutes after, if you go at the same speed, your time will be the same.
To minimize congestion on the singletrack, we will pull out those who will obstruct riders from the following wave before entering the blue zone, and reinsert them when they will no longer obstruct. How do we know they will obstruct? Because they started 5 minutes ahead but still got caught, so they should have been in a much slower wave. No one who is careful and honest about their average speed (even if you're the type who falls behind on climbs but makes it up on descents) will have to sit in the penalty box.