You may remember a recent post I made ranting about race websites not providing race courses on their sites. Well don't worry - I still share the same angst against race websites that refuse to publish any semblance of a course. When it comes to this, there are no excuses why you wouldn't include that. But I've already said that so you don't need to hear that again.
What I am here to tell you about is a solution to our little problem, should you find yourself in a similar predicament. You see, pretty much every race is USATF certified - meaning they've officially measured the course per USATF regulations and had it approved. And once a race organization has received certification, it falls into a database of certified courses.
A ha! We've found the motherload!
In this database, you can find all of your courses either by searching by name, state, distance, etc. It's actually kind of interesting to scroll through all the courses and take a look at the ones you've considered racing, but haven't yet.
Of course, things are never super simple and you'll find that this database contains those crazy hand drawn race course maps, so unless you really know the area where the race is, it may take another step to go to a place like mapmyrun and map it out based on the certified course map to get a better look at critical elements like elevation details.
It's not a perfect solution, but at least it gives you a starting point and a clue as to what the course is like.