"Offer a Mercedes Benz as a prize, and some Kenyan or Ethiopian will do it in under 2 days."
Tom, oh wise one, you are absolutely spot on target. From a general marketing perspective, there is a constant search for something new & interesting that will capture the public's attention. Red Bull has really taken advantage of this trend, and sponsors all kinds of extreme athletes - big wave surfing is just one example.
If FKT exploits in beautiful mountain, desert, forest, ocean, etc settings happen to excite interest in the general public, then make way for internationally recognized elite athletes. The photo & video opportunities are obvious - add a 30 second clip seen by millions, and that represents huge exposure for whatever brand is being touted.
It may not be backpacking - ultralight or otherwise - but it appears that UL is the birthing space. If it takes off and generates more participants, then I would expect to see a dedicated site. Perhaps I can qualify for fastest known time to get into a wetsuit when the surf is firing? Nah, thousands are probably faster. LOL
That story about Anis is quite inspiring. How many people have hidden talents that aren't fully realized?