So the optimal choice of which heat to be in is to take the 13th pick. How do they work that out?
Yeah, I was wondering that, too.
I've seen chatter from fans and writers
suggesting that the NCAA basketball tournament be up for a draft, where the selection committee would rank the teams 1-64 and then each one, starting with #1, would draft where they'd go. The big difference here is that there are 8 different sites for the 1st/2nd round games, and 4 additional sites for 3rd/4th round games, so part of the draft theory is playing a game closer to home and your fans. At SprintWOC, it's all about matchups, not geography.
For the Eliminator draft, if you lead with #1, then that runner has zero choice, which really isn't a great incentive to be #1. If you go the other way round (which doesn't make much sense), then #1 also has zero choice. So it does make some sense to have #1 go in the middle somewhere. Seems like a good problem for a game theorist to work out: what draft system is the most fair?
Not so sure about the choosing your forking... sound[s] like fun but a bit gimmicky for a World Champs.
I somewhat agree, but I don't think it's all gimmick. I think it serves a purpose. The races here are really short, and the athletes are all really fast. If you have traditional forking, the loops are going to need to be really short, and perhaps that's not a very good use of the terrain, or perhaps you can't get much route choice from that. If you skip forking altogether, then you'll just have a herd of guys running in a pack trying to outkick each other at the end. Since you're only racing against guys in your heat, I think it makes less sense to try to maximize efficiency by trying a different route.
The choose-your-forking method kinda straddles both worlds. It's a way to split up the runners without taking up too much time or distance, and therefore utilizing that time and distance for better route-choicey legs. It's better than randomly (and unfairly) assigning non-forked options, since each runner gets a choice.