Tracksmith is known for selling running apparel and gear, and with now running shoes they sell the runner’s dream. A dream where you look beautiful mid-long-run, despite the sweat and tears, and where you get to take your time to drink drip coffee with friends in a clubhouse after said run, rather than rush home to walk the dog.
As a Brit, I’m completely sold on this dream, and in my head, all runners in New England finish their runs in this fashion, so please don’t ruin this for me. The brand’s first running shoe has taken eight years to make, but it sells this dream — from the design, to the packaging.
Weight: 9.2 oz M, 8.4 oz W
Stack height: 9mm
Colors: Ivory/Navy, Black
But how does the Tracksmith Eliot Runner compare to some of the best running shoes on the market? At $198/£206, this everyday running shoe doesn’t come cheap. I’ve been running in the Tracksmith Eliot Runner for the past few weeks, after first seeing the shoe at a London Marathon event last fall. Read my full Tracksmith Eliot Runner review below to find out more.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner review: Price and availability
The Tracksmith Eliot Runner costs $198/£206. This is often the price you’d expect to pay for one of the best carbon fiber running shoes that’s going to help you break your personal record, not an everyday running shoe, and it’s likely to put a lot of runners off.
The shoe comes in men’s and women’s sizing in two colors — Ivory/Navy and Black. It comes in men’s sizes U.S. 7 to U.S. 13, and women’s U.S. 5.5 to U.S. 11. It’s available online now and in Tracksmith’s store in Boston, as well as it’s pop-up stores in London and New York.
The Eliot Runner comes in one of the most beautiful shoe boxes I’ve ever seen, complete with a sepia-toned landscape, thick navy-blue card, and Tracksmith’s gold logo. It pained me to chuck this one in the recycling bin — it’s the kind of shoe box your mum would keep to store old photos.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner review: Design and fit
The Eliot Runner is named after the Boston bar Eliot Lounge, which was a go-to for Boston Marathon runners before it closed in 1996. Tracksmith’s ethos lies in the everyday amateur, and this rings true with the name and design of this running shoe. It’s not built for elites, or race-day heroes, it’s built for the everyday runner. In a world of carbon-fiber plates and air pockets, it’s a simple shoe.
From a design perspective, there’s no doubt about it — the shoe is beautiful. With Tracksmith’s recognizable sash across the shoe, it has the retro feel of Tracksmith’s kit, while simultaneously looking modern.
From a fit perspective, I’m not quite sure Tracksmith have nailed it just yet. A few of my guy friends said they found the shoe came up big, a few female friends said they found it small. I bought the same US size I wear in the Nike Pegasus - US 7.5, which translates as a UK 5/EU 38 in Nike, and a UK 5.5/EU 38.5 in the Tracksmith shoe. If you can, I’d recommend trying them on before buying. The shoe was as roomy as the Peg 39, but I could probably have sized down a little.
The upper is a bootie-style upper, made from Tracksmith’s engineered mesh. The collar has a good amount of padding, as does the tongue, which has Tracksmith’s logo stitched in. The collar is made from suede, and on the Ivory shoe, made me super nervous wearing this shoe on wet sidewalks. I found the shoe was spacious in the toe box, although it did sit a little low against my foot.
The woven sash isn’t just designed to look cool (did I mention this shoe is beautiful), but to provide you with a good amount of mid-foot lockdown. I had no issues with lockdown when testing the shoe, but did experience a little rubbing on the medial side of my foot when I first took them out of the box.
Tracksmith says it’s “a Pebax-Powered trainer inspired by the pep of New England’s natural surfaces.” Pebax is a material often found in some of the best carbon fiber running shoes, which explains the Eliot’s price tag, and is used in the insole of this shoe. When you physically take the insole out of the Eliot, you’ll see how thick, squishy, and soft this is, and you do feel it underfoot.
That said, if you’re a max-cushioned running shoe fan (like me), don’t get too excited. This is definitely on the firmer side of the tracks. The midsole of the shoe is made from a firmer Pebax, designed to be durable, offer protection, and give you a bit of pop as you run. The combination of these two midsole materials does give the shoe a snappy feel underfoot — it reminded me of the old-school Nike Pegasus Turbo, although the Peg Turbo was definitely a little squishier underfoot.
It was shock-absorbing and easy to do most sessions in. I’ve worn this shoe for a long run, a tempo run, and on the track and it coped well with whatever I threw at it. I’m by no means the club runner you’d usually see donning Tracksmith’s kit, but this shoe felt snappy at an 8:20 minute mile on my long run, and a 7:30 minute mile for 400m repeats on the track.
The downside of that Pebax midsole is that it’s not the most durable material. It’s one of the reasons most carbon fiber shoes won’t last you longer than one marathon.
The Tracksmith Eliot outsole has a decent amount of rubber, designed to give runners a good amount of grip on wet sidewalks and light trails. When Tracksmith revealed the shoe in London, Tracksmith CEO Matt Taylor spoke a lot about the feel of running on pine needles on a dirt track. He wanted the shoe to feel like that when you were running on the grey London sidewalks, and he’s delivered on a shoe that is grippy enough to handle both.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner review: Running performance
I’m the first to admit, I haven’t done a long run in a shoe like this for a very long time. I’m a max-cushioned shoe runner. I hate feeling the concrete beneath my feet, and I like a soft, plush layer between me and the ground. Yet six miles into my long run, I was surprised to find I didn’t hate it. In fact, I enjoyed the snappy yet secure feel of the Eliot Runner.
I was also surprised with how well it coped with faster sessions — it was firm and snappy to let me pick up the pace on the track. It’s a good shoe for training miles, and (without sounding like a broken record), it looks cool enough to wear in the office after your run commute — sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if you’re spending $200 on a shoe, you want to be able to wear it casually too.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner review: Verdict
Tracksmith did everything they could to make this shoe feel premium — from the stitched-in label on the tongue, to the poem on the bottom of the midsole. It’s what you’d expect from the brand, but these little touches do make the shoe feel like it’s worth it’s price tag.
Yet it’s price tag is a bit of a stumbling block, and does make this shoe a little unattainable for some runners. Compared to the likes of the Nike Pegasus 39, which is also a great durable shoe at $120, the Tracksmith Eliot is more exciting to run in, but I’m not sure it’s exciting enough to pay $78 more.
Either way, this shoe is a brilliant debut from a brand famous for it’s clothing. I have no doubt that it’ll do well with Tracksmith fans around the globe, and it’s a decent comfortable, durable, everyday running shoe.