The scoop on what it is and what it’s for
Editor’s note: For full transparency, I am a Tracksmith ambassador. There’s no expectation from Tracksmith for me to cover its products on TEMPO and this feature is not a paid promotion.
Tracksmith has today announced its first foray into performance footwear with the Eliot Runner, a product that blends leading innovation with Tracksmith’s signature classic styling and a desire to make products for lovers of running.
In a press release ahead of today’s global media event in London, Tracksmith founder and CEO Matt Taylor said this launch had been a long time coming.
“Although we launched the brand with apparel, footwear has always been a strategic priority given the significant role it plays in a runner’s daily life. We worked for several years to develop an everyday trainer that would address the fundamental needs of this athlete: versatile performance over a range of speeds and surfaces, with the perfect blend of cushioning and responsiveness.”
From what I can tell, the Eliot Runner has been designed to be your daily trainer – with a twist. The extra cake in the midsole means you’ll be able to crank this on long runs.
Before I give you my interpretation of what the Eliot Runner might be best suited to, we’ll first break down the design details. Let’s start with the sockliner. Yes, there are sexier parts of this shoe but the sockliner plays a critical role – let me explain. Rather than opting for a typical, cheap sockliner, Tracksmith has made it out of Pebax, which industry experts agree is what’s behind the leading midsole foam on the market (more on that shortly).
So, if you’ve got a thicker, more cushioned and comfortable sockliner, it allows you to do more with the midsole. In this case, Tracksmith has opted for a slightly firmer, more responsive Pebax midsole (most of the leading footwear on the market now has some form of Pebax in the midsole in different combinations and configurations). This means you’ll get a durable midsole that allows you to get some pop, but you’ll also reap the benefits of a more cushioned ride thanks to the unique sockliner.
The shoe has a 34.5mm stack in the heel, which gives you some indication of its suitability for different types of runs, and 24.5mm in the toe, which is going to be friendly on the Achilles for runners at all stages in their running journey. A flared heel further removes any potential for discomfort on the Achilles.
The upper is an engineered mesh, with microsuede overlays around the collar and eyestay, while the signature sash adorns the midfoot and aids lockdown.
From what I can tell, the Eliot Runner has been designed to be your daily trainer – with a twist. The extra cake in the midsole (reminder: 34.5mm heel stack) means you’ll be able to crank this on long runs – I have no doubt about that. The effort they’ve gone to on the sockliner also reinforces the priority around comfort. For comparison, the Nike Pegasus 39 has a 33mm stack, while the Alphafly 2 has a 40mm stack. You might say, “Well, 34.5mm is only 1.5mm higher than the Pegasus,” but sometimes 1–2mm makes a big difference.
The thing that I can’t tell from the press release is whether it can work at tempo – but if the Pebax midsole is engineered to be a little firmer and more responsive then you won’t have any issues when someone starts pushing the pace on the midweek long run (still, don’t be that person). It’s not a dedicated workout shoe, but you will have enough ammo when the pace gets a bit quicker than expected.
Weight wise, it’s about where you would expect. Tracksmith reports 9.4oz (266g) for a men’s size 9, which is around 6g (or 0.2oz) heavier than Nike’s Pegasus 39. Six grams is basically a couple of heavy snot rockets on the warm-up.
I did ask the team at Tracksmith whether we should view this as a one-time release (like their recent collab with Puma) or whether they have long term plans for a presence in footwear and I got a pretty categorical response: this is the start of a significant investment in footwear over the long term (which tells me more colours and models will come in 2023, but that’s a guess).
I’m excited for Tracksmith’s launch into footwear, and it has nothing to do with my affiliations to the brand. (Honestly, my editorial integrity that I’ve built over five years at TEMPO is worth much more to me than a pair of runners.) It comes down to the same thing I say any time we see a new entrant into a space within running, whether that was Puma’s return to footwear, Ciele’s foray into apparel, or any of the other examples we could name. More brands in our sport means more investment into our sport. It means more investment going back into the running communities, more athletes getting supported through sponsorships and prize money, better events that are held around the world, more young creators getting their start, and so on. It also means more choice for consumers.
Now, on a more biased note, I do love Tracksmith. I appreciate that in a world of big brands whose decision makers are often far removed from the sport, Tracksmith is a brand full of runners. They’re out there crushing, just like you and me. I think their apparel is designed for people who love the sport and who have a clear set of needs as runners. For the sake of balance, Tracksmith aren’t alone in creating great apparel – I think On Running make some of the most technically brilliant apparel in running, lululemon actually design great stuff, and Soar seem to be pushing the envelope when it comes to race kits.
But I’m excited about this shoe and, even more, for what looks like Tracksmith’s long-term commitment to footwear development.