One of my favorite parts of hamming is contesting. You may hate it, but careful, before you know it you may be checking "This Weeks Contests" on contesting.com every week. I was first licensed in 1978. I just did not understand the logic behind contesting. I wanted to communicate more than a fast signal report. I looked forward to weekends when there were no contest. I loved it when our new WARC bands were open and declared contest-free.
Contests are a lot like golf. From the outside looking in is not a lot of fun. But if you are actually in the game, it takes on a whole new aspect. Same with contest. There are strategies, there are physical demands, there are rewards. Next time you hear someone calling "CQ Contest," give them a call, they will certainly appreciate it.
People ask me if I ever win a contest. Well no I haven't and yes I have. I have not won overall, but I have won my state. I have won NA once from El Salvador. I set goals that I consider a personal win if I make them.
Some of the strategies can be interesting. Many Single Operator category contests only allow 30-36 hours per 48 hour contest. This builds your rest into the weekend. The strategy comes into planning those rest periods when the activity is the absolute lowest. I have seen big stations go and work 30 straight hours then quit. And have terrible scores. Planning your off time correctly will help you have a better score.
Many operators are going the SO2R route. Or the Single Operator 2 Radio. This is not a category in most contest. It is just a huge advantage for the operator who knows how to run the setup effectively. While calling CQ on the "run" radio, the operator tunes around other bands looking for stations to work on the S&P rig, or the "Search and Pounce" radio. This is not simply the cost of an extra radio. Getting those rigs to work together is fairly expensive. Filters or at least tuned stubs are needed to prevent interference from harmonics. Switching antennas between the two radios, and switching the keyer and mic is another area where you can spend considerable money. I just got all the pieces to run my 2 rigs in SO2R this coming fall contest season. Is it worth it? I will know in about 6 months.