Sorry for the late "bump" but I just found it when I was looking for one of my other race reports.
To address a few of the things here:
BW *isn't* just for elites, and it actually doesn't appeal to a lot of elites. Any year, if you look at the list of people (which lists occupations), you'll see it's a pretty true cross-section of society... very few "professional runners." I know elites who do it and I know quite a few people who don't have any "special" qualifications, beyond the minimums of course.
If anyone ever has the opportunity to crew or pace here, I highly recommend doing it! I did it last year and it was one of the best experiences of my life (not just running-related).
Crewing experience, particularly at BW is somewhat of an unwritten prerequisite. I think part of this is to ensure runners know what it's like to be on the "other side." Also, it gives people a taste of BW without having to do the whole thing to ensure it's something they really want to do.
After my last 100-miler, yes, I have met the minimum requirement to submit an application. No, I will not submit one for next year. I LOVED crewing and pacing my friend Karla there last year and would love to go back (and will go back, maybe this year, maybe not, but 3 people solicited me for their crews this year, although I chose not to commit).
(I've removed Badwater from my "races to never do" list... but I haven't put it on "races I need to do" list... yet. As Karla called me out on a couple weeks ago, my attitude toward BW right now is exactly how I was treating 100-milers last year. )