I'd like to see a different competition. For the contest, I'll need some acres of cheap desert land. Nevada, I'm looking at you. The site should be selected based on similarity to Mars, as much as practical (e.g., sandy soil, rocks, etc.). It could even be in the dry valleys of Antarctica, although that might be a problem because people might see this as exploiting the pristine environment there.
Now here's the contest.
Based on a preliminary judgement process, participants each get temporary use of an acre. They are allowed to visit it exactly ONCE for an hour, and leave behind... a robot.
The robot's task is prepare the surface as much as possible for human habitation. There will be a mandatory delay in communicating with the robot, to simulate the actual delay communicating with Mars. To prevent cheating, all communications will be routed through the contest organizer's central server.
The winners will be judged based on how close they came to preparing something that could be quickly converted into a habitation by arriving people.
A few extra details need to be worked out, such as weight and size limits on the robot. Otherwise somebody might park an old 747 there and claim victory. It also needs to be something that could survive launch and entry. Contest organizers might subject each robot to predetermined G-force and temperature excursions at the start.
Maybe the contest should be allowed to run for a year or so. I think it'd be interesting.
Even without the contest, it would be interesting. It's a bit of an expensive hobby and perhaps more practical as a game; but there's nothing like the real thing. It could lead to actual techniques for surface prep.