Okay, I'll bite.
First off as far as "speed" goes...well, I haven't touched the track this entire year! 20 by 400m? yeaaaaaaah right, I wouldn't even do that training for a road marathon. The fastest I go is about 5:10 pace doing short tempo runs and 2-mile repeats (it doesn't feel good after climbing/jogging up 14,000' peaks). For sure there is something to be said about developing muscle tension and leg strength through fast running (as well as the obvious cardiovascular stimulus)..that helps with some climbing ability on the trails.
I also know where i stand when it comes to speed (mid-pack at the last Olympic Trials). I'm a 14:29 5km runner. My Vo2max sucks.
In my very limited experience of racing in Europe (and granted I haven't run any 100s) the mountains just seem very different. There's a reason Max King and I got totally waxed at Sierre-Zinal (like brought to a crying walk). That's only a 20-mile race. Something about the transition of very steep ups and downs to flats and weird grades on uneven trails. It's about how the hills come at you, when they come at you, and what percent grade you have to grind up and down...
Now that being said, Jason Schlarb (who does come from a more traditional "speed background" did get 4th). He's been training on the course there all summer. Coincidence? I think not... I have no idea what Rory does to do so well, but I've seen her run and she's got really smooth and "speedy" looking form and is built like an elite 10km runner.
As far as the sponsorship plugs and shameless self promotion goes. It's really the name of the game (if you want companies to notice). I have contracts that require a certain number of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and blog links each month. I don't always think it's good marketing, but a lot of ultra runners get deals this way.
As far as the future of MUT (Mountain-Ultra-Trail) Running goes. The key is Running Economy over variable terrain. Having a high Vo2max helps, having a well-trained lactate threshold helps...but what really matters (besides getting in food as it's an eating contest as well) is if your legs can hold up. Then again, I haven't run that far yet so take all that I just I wrote with a grain of salt...