This Tracksmith Eliot Runner review got me pretty excited. It’s always interesting to see newcomers mixing up the running shoe market.
Now, for every running apparel brand, there comes a time when the tricky question raises its head: “Should we turn our hand to making shoes?” It’s a risky business. Designing good running shoes is hard; getting them wrong can damage your reputation. That didn’t stop Lululemon from taking the big step recently. And seeing premium apparel aficionados Tracksmith also take the leap is pretty big news.
Tracksmith excels at making strong, simple and stylish retro aesthetic apparel. It mixes clean lines and classic simplicity into running gear that’s made to perform. And they’ve kept true to that ethos with their first ever running shoe – the Tracksmith Eliot Runner.
Tracksmith says they aimed to create a daily training shoe that’s soft, resilient, responsive and ready for anything—offering maximum performance and versatility. The big question is whether they’ve successfully baked that style and substance recipe into a top-performing daily trainer that can take on the best running shoes on the market. I’ve put in some big and testy miles in the Tracksmith Eliot Runner to find out.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner review: Price and availability
The Tracksmith Eliot Runner launched in January 2023 and is currently available to buy from Tracksmith for a recommended retail price of $198 / £198. That’s a big chunk of change for a daily trainer. It’s the kind of price tag usually reserved for carbon-plated race shoes like the Nike Alphafly Next% or the Adidas Adios Pro 3. It also makes this just about the most expensive daily trainer on the shelves.
The competition is fierce in this area, too. The cheaper Tracksmith Eliot alternatives include top performers like the HOKA Mach 5 (£130 / $140), the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 (£165 / $170) and the new Brooks Hyperion Max. (£140 / $150) to name a few.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner review: What’s new?
The Tracksmith Eliot Runner is named after the Boston bar Eliot Lounge – a go-to for Boston Marathon runners before it closed in 1996. Eliot is also the name of the brand’s logo hare. And considering this is Tracksmith’s first ever running shoe, everything is new.
This is a deliberately simple shoe with a clean and classic, understated, minimalist silhouette and all-gender styling. It comes in two colours: black and an ivory/navy combo that looks good while it’s clean but might not stay clean for long.
It’s designed for everyday amateur runners to log all their weekly training miles at a range of paces and still look smart in the post-run cafe. And it pulls it off. This is a real looker. One of the best looking shoes we’ve had on our feet. We can see plenty of non runners being drawn to the clean looks too. It’s a bit like the running version of On’s Roger.
On the technical side, you’ve got a supercritical Pebax midsole with a 33.5mm / 24.5mm stack height and a 9mm heel-to-toe drop. That’s paired with a softer supercritical Pebax footbed that’s triple the thickness of a regular insole.
The upper is an engineered mesh and there are some lovely details like a soft suede lining on the outside of the heel collar that add to that premium feel. There’s a well-padded heel collar and tongue for comfort and woven sashes on the medial and lateral sides to help with midfoot lockdown and hold.
The Tracksmith Eliot Runner also comes with a 100-mile guarantee, so if you don’t like them you can ship them back. That’s a safety net we can buy into.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner: Fit
I ran in my regular UK 8.5 but found they came up a bit narrow and long. At the very least the uppers have what you’d call a hugging fit that I found a touch cramped. They weren;t uncomfortable and on the plus side there’s good lockdown and no major movement in the heel but if you like roomy shoes, then these might not be your thing. That extra length in the toe box also means I wouldn’t recommend sizing up.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner: Fashion first?
This shoe almost demands consideration from two viewpoints. One is for it’s all-out running performance. More on that below. The other judging it as a smart-looking sneaker with running powers.
When it comes to sneakers, it’s not uncommon to splash out north of £200 for a pair that’s packing the right kind of style for your look. But let’s face it, many running shoes don’t exactly nail the subtle aesthetic. The Tracksmith Eliot has the style well covered.
If you want a shoe that can handle easy running and look snappy while you’re swanning around the post-run socials – or fit right into the office after your easy run commute – then the Eliot Runner might not seem like such a steep investment. It caters for that best-of-both worlds well. But when it comes to all-out performance, it comes up short.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner: Running performance
In testing, I ran 30 miles in the Tracksmith Eliot Runner. That includes a mix of easy-paced hour-long plods, one 1.5-hour Sunday long-ish run and a smattering of shorter intervals to test the top pace. The majority on roads and pavements but with the odd excursion onto compacted gravel river and park paths.
Straight out of the box, the Eliot Runner has all the hallmarks of a firm-ride shoe. That supercritical Pebax feels solid and blocky, quite different to the squish-and-response midsoles in the likes of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3. And it doesn’t immediately scream versatile daily trainer.
That said, once you start running, there are surprises. Yes, it’s very firm and a little sloppy, but the Pebax midsole springs to life to give you a bit of a snap in transition and some spring. The footbed adds some softness, too. As a runner who likes firmer shoes, this ticks a lot of boxes for me.
It’s the kind of shoe that keeps you connected to the ground and encourages a faster foot strike but also manages to give you a little helping hand along the way. But we’re talking more gentle encouragement than the all-out punch you might find in some rivals. I also found it performed better when I was moving with good form, striking mid-to-forefoot with a higher turnover.
If Tracksmith was aiming for a shoe that runs more traditional (but with a little extra), for me, they’ve achieved it. But it’s a ride that I’m not sure all runners will like. If you’re a fan of marshmallow midsole daily shoes, then this is likely to be too firm, and too direct. And for me, the lack of protection somewhat hinders its versatility.
Towards the end of my long run tests, I found my feet feeling a bit beaten up, and I’d definitely reserve this shoe for short casual runs and the odd workouts rather than anything particularly fast or long. This is a solid debut from Tracksmith – and while I appreciate this is aiming at a crowd who like to invest their pennies in premium stuff, as a running shoe rather than a fashion statement, for this price, I think I want more.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner review: Verdict
I wanted to love this shoe, not just for the way it looks but for the way it performs, too, but I think, on balance, it just didn’t wow me. Not enough to warrant the price tag. It’s not a bad shoe, and there are merits. It succeeds in bringing a little extra energy and dynamism into a more traditional silhouette daily trainer.
It’s a perfectly comfortable, happy ride for casual 10kms where you’re moving well. But it lacks protection, isn’t brilliant when you’re chasing top speeds and doesn’t quite pack the versatility I’d want in a daily trainer. A solid debut that’s left me excited to see what else Tracksmith has in its ever-so-stylish locker.
Tracksmith Eliot Runner review: Also consider
We mentioned further up that when it comes to daily trainer performance, the Tracksmith Eliot Runner joins a crowded – and highly competitive space.
Not many daily trainers will match the Trascksmith Eliot for style, but if you’re looking for a good-looker that’ll work for walking around the office and performing on your runs, it’s worth considering the On Cloudflow. It’s a daily shoe with a firmer ride but excellent step-in comfort and a pretty good sense of style.
For pure performance at a more sensible price, you can’t beat the HOKA Mach 5. This shoe offers bucket loads of comfort and plenty of versatility and can eat all kinds of miles, from happy cruising to faster-paced workouts.
Another big favourite is the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3. This do-it-all daily trainer is wonderfully balanced, deceptively fast and brilliantly protective. A complete package shoe that’s excellent value.