Wow, have things changed since the days of training intensely to building to a key ultra endurance race. As I hear over and over again, many athletes just winging it and sign up for ultra events with no training, I still wonder why? Save the entry fee, travel and race budget and just do it on your own. However, the missing ingredient with the "do it on your own journeys", there is no personal interaction and hyped up race environment. Clearly the personal interaction from the ultra family space of a race atmosphere attracts many athletes and maybe it's because of our lack of face to face connection in the world we live in.
It's a challenge to see if you can finish a serious long event with no training. The attraction of "no training" may be for self-promotion for some athletes in the transparent social media world we all live in. One thing I have learned is that it's tough to "hack" the body for a significantly long race 7+ days or longer. However, don't count out a cross-fitter from attempting one, they do it all the time with success! I will never forget running a 100 mile trail race and meeting a fella from NYC and as we chatted around mile 30 he told me this was the most mileage he has ever done not in one run, but a total in his lifetime! I was shocked, but he finished of course. Just love the determination of a cross-fitter.
Every individual has their own reasons for training and racing. If you are considering an event, consider first doing it for yourself, or raise awareness of a personal cause you are embracing. Do you race just to compare yourself to others or have the constant mindset we always hear, "to break the world record"? Remember there is always some faster than you unless you are Usain Bolt.
With so many interests in life, the magnitude of the different types of events and time constraints, maybe that's the reason some athtlets are less interested in the actual race and it's more about the overall journey compared to actually finishing the event.
I wonder if this "less training" and just wing it approach will keep athletes in the ultra distance endurance space or will they drift away after the experience. This is not the athlete who gets injured and training is hampered, its the crowd that just states, "What if I do one or two long rides or runs and go on gut's and strong mental strength for a 7+ day endurance event"? It's hard to imagine many new athletes who don't train and gather more DNF's again and again, will remain in the ultra world.
Wonder if the ultra endurance racing scene will develop into the same mindset of participation awards we see so prevalent in children's sports? Everyone has a different perceptive on participation awards vs. actually stepping up and realize failure occurred, because you actually did not train or work hard. Bringing more athletes into the ultra sports space is great and needed, but lack of training (physical and mental) and time clearly has had an impact with so many new events that up that are easier that the old standard. Time, injuries, costs, more potential competitors all are factors of course for the growth of the secondary easier events. Maybe that's not a bad thing as it moves to a new generation of races and "hackers".