Quick update more later:
Freezing cold(did warm up some after I became mildly hypothermic), 4" of snow # the start, mud, about 30 freezing creek crossings(most DEEP). After about 6 miles I had two gears, big ring & middle ring(you have to love that 90's era XT stuff). 4 Guys in my division. I finished the first lap fast enough to make a 2nd but said screw it & took 3rd instead of 2nd(cost me a series point & some cash). SOmehow bruised the hell out of my right palm. I am now 2nd overall in the series(not for long since most of the remaining races are in the STL) Now I have to get a new drive train & brakes but the air stayed in my tires & my bike mostly worked. Continental Speed King work great in the mud FYI.