Maybe it's because I am injured and likely not to race again until the Spring or perhaps I am pulling for the older guys lately but two race performances over the past five weeks have suggested to me that perhaps focusing on one key, intense, all-out performance per year is the best way to extend an ultrarunning career.
Certainly, as the sport has grown, so has the prevalence of multiple fine perfomances in a given year. However, it seems that to truly "over-acheive" focusing on one race seems to work. Take Matt Carpenter and Mike Morton. Matt has raced one ultra race a year for the last three years (Pikes Peak Marathon, I say it counts as an ultra because it's 26.3 miles and climbs over 7000 feet up a 14'er) and won it each time. The rest of his races and efforts have been good, of course, but nothing compared to his Pikes' results. He, quite simply, owns that race even in his late-forties.
Then there's Mike Morton who set the Course Record at the 1997 WS100 in 15:40 and, along the way, ran a 2:18 split to the River. It was a truly badass run and there are some who say it is still the single best performance at WS (or at least right up there with King, Howard, Trason, Jurek and Roes). Shortly following that extraordinary race, he promptly fell off the map and years later, after grappling with injuries, etc..., he re-emerged at the 2010 Hinson Lake 24 Hour to run 153 miles. Then, he disappeared again until this past Saturday when he went back to Hinson Lake and ran, I believe, over 160 miles. Along the way, he hit the 100 mile split in 13 hours. This, mind you, on a hilly course in 90+ degrees and high humidity.
I don't know about the rest of you but once I shake this pf I'll be focusing all my energy on the last Saturday in June, 2012. If it's good enough for Matt and Mike it's good enough for me.