Just throwing this out there... a few of us (or at least Larry and I) will be riding the course sometime in September. When we have more details I'll post here. If you wanted to try the race in April but were injured, scared, etc. maybe this is the time? If you were unable to finish... maybe this will be better conditions to try? Want to see how fast you could finish without freezing slush and massive headwinds? This is your chance! We wouldn't really have it be a group ride so much as everyone would start at the same time and you'd know that at least someone else is out there suffering with you. No checkpoints etc. Of course, that means no support by any organizers. The notes are right, so you'd be fending for yourselves (unless you travel at our pace then be safe in knowing you won't get lost).
Remember... version 2 might just be even better!!! (will have at least one more minimum maintenance quagmire at least)
Hope your summers are going great...