Sea-to-Sea, Expedition Oregon, Untamed NE, Shenandoah Tough, Old South XPD, plus a few 1+ and 2-day races (and PQ in BC).
Did I miss any? Is this a sign of the sport growing, more ambitious RDs or just a shift in interest toward bigger stuff? All of the above?
There's also Raid Gaspesie (3 day stage race), Race the Phantom (48 hours), and the new Defi Nepisguit (2 day stage race) in Eastern Canada.
My take on it is that it's a lot of ambitious RDs. And I mean that as a compliment. While I personally advocate for having more beginner-level races (and there's not a ton of those cropping up these days),I don't think the sport only has to choose one direction in which to focus for growth. Plenty of people get into AR by starting with a multi-day (one of my own teammates did ITERA Ireland as her second-ever AR, and believe it or not, she's still racing).
Still, I think the sport could do with more racers, as not that many of these big-time expeditions are selling out, as they should be (think of if Western States, or Ironman Kona didn't sell out). The straightest line to get to that point is through building the pipeline, starting with beginner races.
As a side note, and this could explain why there are more XPDs this year: in chats with a couple of expedition-race RDs, they've told me that for the time involved, they might as well run an expedition (rather than a shorter 24-48 hour race) so that they can charge what it actually costs to put on these races, if you count volunteered man-hours.
Bottom line for me: more races, no matter what length or type, equals benefits to the sport.