One of the big pluses for the NRR is that it is a nine day event with the only prizes being for participation. QSOs can go beyond "599 MN 73" to include real ham-to-ham communications. In addition, the nine day window allows operating times that miss the popular weekend contests and, possibly, hit a day or two of decent propagation. It doesn't hurt that the equipment celebrated by the NRR happens to be some of the same that I dreamed about in 1966 when I was first on the air as a novice.
This year I'm hoping to have three stations up and running.