I'm perpetually amazed at how this grows and delivers fun for so many people. Two people I know are in their first 'cross season, one is one race deep, one is two races deep. The common thread? Absolutely, utterly, irreversibly hooked. Perfect! Both expressed the same "is it competitive racing, can I do it, is it technically difficult" series of questions in advance, then at the end of the race realized nobody knows how you did, it's just competitive within yourself, yes you can do it, and technical difficulty is just commensurate with speed for the most part.
Ps. Trying to do 'cross after an 850k week in Mongolia and jet lag is... difficult!