Jon, you're right (and Clint gets to the real crux of it where I didn't)-- Clearly it was just my opinion and not even a particularly well stated one at that, since I didn't make clear I was talking about (or at least thinking about) trouble of your own making. But I do believe you should have to pay for rescue efforts when you did something out there that was clearly negligent, though I grudgingly admit that as a practical matter that would likely be enforceable only if "negligent" in this case meant a clear violation of park rules.
I've come to accept the fees we now have to pay for national park access, wilderness permits, etc., because I've got the money now, but the young dirtbag me didn't. It was all pretty much free for that kid, just like public education in his state (CA) was. When I started at San Diego State it cost $72 per full-time semester. Okay, so I'm a dinosaur, but I guess my point is this: If we're going to have to pay to play--and we already do with park entrance, wilderness permit, and campground fees--then pay-for-rescue makes a helluva lot more sense to me than raising the other fees. To think that a portion of my park entrance and permit fees pay for the helicopter rescue of dumbasses who willfully ignore every bit of park advice/rule doesn't seem right to me.
Races need to be registered, permitted, and adequate medical services provided by the organizer.
The problem really doesn't exist. Unprepared people come in lycra and in sweat pants. Dehydration affects the unprepared, no matter what speed they are moving.
R2R trail running is by no means extreme. I ran a portion of the trail when I visited. I had no problems passing people. Leaving at the crack of dawn, I was alone for a long time. I carried my own water. The trails are extremely tame by trail running standards. As a hacker and a piss poor trail runner, I have run many trails and done many races. The trails at the Grand Canyon are wide and have great footing. At the steepest sections, you would be hard pressed to distinguish my trail running from a hike.
The Loowit on St. Helens is now part of the trail running circuit. It is not in as good a condition as the Grand Canyon and far more fragile. Runners pay a fee. Water resupply stations are organized. Runners must show the capacity to carry 40 ounces of water at the starting line. Emergency services are at several locations. As I train for that race, I have encountered other runners on the trail - quite a change from a decade ago.
Trail running doesn't mean missing anything. I see more of the trail and more of the sights trail running than those who hike a mile or two from the trailhead, then turn back. Keep in mind that we are generally moving just a few miles an hour - the scenery does not go by in a blur. I see more than the folks sitting in the car.
People are so selfish. It is PUBLIC land for enjoyment. It is not your private land, available to those who pay the most money. It is total baloney to think those trails can only handle 80 - 90 people per day.