The Eliot Runner is Tracksmith's first foray into the shoe market. How does it compare to the rest?
The Eliot Runner
Tracksmith, known for their quality materials and clean, simple aesthetic, have had a shoe out for a while. The Eliot Runner embraces their ethos and has a look which will turn many a head. However, looks are not the be all and end all of running shoes. Tim and Ivan had the chance to test them out. Let’s see how they got on with them.
Weight in Tracksmith’s sample size: 226g (8oz)
Stack: Heel 33.5mm – Toe 24.5mm (9mm drop)
The Upper: Clean, fresh and beautiful
At first look, the Eliott Runner looks more like a sneaker than a running shoe. This impression mainly comes from the shape of the shoe. Both midsole and upper, as well as the white colorway (that honestly I dislike for running shoes). This impression will not disappear once you put your foot inside as it’s comfortable as sneakers are. To attain this level of comfort, Tracksmith added a lot of padding everywhere. From the heel counter to the tongue as well as the double layer of mesh. This consists of the outside one and an inside layer with a honeycomb pattern.
The insole has not been left behind. Thick and soft (as well as the midsole itself but we will talk about it later). It’s maybe one of the most comfortable insoles ever for a running shoe. This may be because the insole is 100% Pebax which is quite impressive.
If we focus on the width of the forefoot, it’s wide enough for me to avoid unpleasant chafing on little toes. As a result of this, the shoes are very comfortable on my feet. I would also say here, and I could say it in every part of this review, that I’m quite impressed with the high level of finishing. I believe Tracksmith when they said that they are “using best-in-class materials”. A few examples that came to mind when writing this are the embroidered logo on the insole and the suede on the collar and eyestays.
For me, there are two drawbacks to this upper, first the white colour. I could admit that it’s beautiful the first time you put the shoes on, but that’s it. As soon as you run on mud or under bad weather the white will turn to grey or brown. You will need to clean the shoes every run if you want to keep them white. The other drawback comes from the lace cage where I would prefer the shoe to go a bit higher and therefore give a better hold. I personally use the latest eyelet with mine to increase the lockdown but I’m not a huge fan of the feeling of it.
Despite these 2 points, I’m pretty happy with the upper.
Let me start by agreeing with Tim about the design of the shoe. In a way, it is hard not to be impressed with the clean look. Almost reminding me more of a classy sneaker or maybe even an old-school tennis shoe. However, I’m also not a fan of the style when it comes to running. It just seems a bit too casual and polished. I’m almost afraid of getting the shoe dirty on my runs and that is usually never the case with my running shoes.
I have been very impressed with the quality of the materials and the many well-thought-out details like that embroidered insole. Tracksmith is associated with high-end apparel with some retro vibes and these features are also very recognizable with the Eliot runner. I see no compromises in that regard, but I do wish that a few performance-oriented decisions were made to make the shoe a bit lighter. Even though that would probably not work as well with the retro look and overall aesthetics in mind. Just to mention a few, I’m not a fan of the super thick “sneaker” laces or the significant amount of suede used.
As for the fit, I agree with Tim that a higher heel collar would help with the lockdown. I am not sliding around in the shoe, but not feeling that secure in it either. That sneaker look somehow also translates to the shape and fit. It is a bit like wearing a casual sneaker for a run. It is not a huge deal but somehow it just doesn’t inspire me to do long or fast runs.
Midsole: Pebax throughout
“Soft, resilient, responsive and ready for anything” are the words Tracksmith uses to describe the shoe. I do not agree on all of them but I admit that the run is soft. 100% made of supercritical Pebax (like the insole) the midsole has nearly the exact softness I’m looking for in a daily trainer. But it also works for me at a higher pace. I have performed endurance, tempo as well as intervals with this shoe. Other than intervals, it works pretty well. At a higher pace than tempo (which is for me around 4min/km 6.26/mile) I miss some responsiveness from the midsole. The shoe leaves me feeling that I have to put much more effort to achieve a higher pace. I also miss a bit of rocker for this kind of pace where I really increase my cadence and therefore like to have a quite pronounced rocker.
And it’s maybe here the most interesting thing about this shoe. Is it the best daily trainer I try this year? No. Is it the best endurance shoe I try this year? No. Is it the best tempo shoe? No. But if I had to pick one shoe for all of these runs, this would be it!
This is where my experience with the Eliot Runner really differs from Tim. During my first run, I kept wondering why I just couldn’t feel that fully Peba-based midsole and insole translating into a soft and highly responsive ride. Ok, my legs were a bit trashed from a hard workout, so I did not want to make hasty conclusions. But 5-6 runs later I’m still feeling underwhelmed by the ride. Maybe I just had too high expectations…
So, what do I think is missing? At least in my case, it is pretty obvious that the more traditional flat profile of the shoe does not match my biomechanics. I have grown accustomed to rockered shoes and the Eliot Runner does not provide much of that. Combined with a fairly unresponsive ride, it leaves much to be desired.
But for that large group of runners looking for a one-shoe-only to do those 2-3 shorter runs weekly, I actually think that this shoe could be a decent option. It can handle a quite wide variety of runs despite not being the best at anything. It is still light and snappy enough to get the job done. And while this is no long-distance monster or interval rocket, it still works fine as that no-nonsense 5-10k easy day shoe. I have a feeling that a lot of runners may actually enjoy the simplicity of the fit and ride while being motivated by the overall aesthetics.
Outsole: Everyone loves gum rubber, right?
I like the look of this gum rubber outsole and I guess it compliments the whole retro vibe going on. There have been no issues in wet conditions so far and the quite thick layer of rubber seems really durable. Some weight could probably have been shaved off by having less of it but then again, Tracksmith would never compromise on quality and durability. The lack of a rocker combined with this much rubber makes the ride a bit “slappy” with my midfoot strike. But this might not be the case for the majority of runners out there.
I agree on everything Ivan said. I have nearly 80 km on mine and I’m quite confident that the shoe will last for a lot of kilometres.
How does the Eliot Runner work overall?
I will not let the unusually clean design influence my final judgement. It is a highly subjective matter and probably even more so with this retro “sneaker” look. But the overall quality is not really up for discussion. The Eliot Runner is made from premium materials and with many small fine details. As always with Tracksmith.
When it comes to the fit, I think there is room for improvement. Especially the heel collar and the lacing system does not provide a sufficient lockdown in my case. Being the first running shoe from Tracksmith, I didn’t really know what to expect in regards to the ride. The specs sheet seemed promising though and I was especially excited about the full Pebax midsole and insole. Unfortunately, my high hopes were not fully met. The ride just feels a bit dull to me. I miss some energy return or maybe also a rocker geometry for a more dynamic ride. However, those who are into the unique design and want a simple but fairly versatile daily trainer, this might be an interesting alternative.
Looks put aside, as it’s highly subjective, I quite like the shoe. As already mentioned, there is nothing crazy about it and, as Ivan said, there is room for improvement especially for the lacing system. Nevertheless, I found the shoe quite good for me in everything from easy to tempo. Moreover, the shoe lifetime seems to be quite high. For those reasons, it’s a daily trainer I would consider when recommending shoes. Will I include them in my shoes’ rotation? No, cause I have a specific shoe for every type of training and not a daily that does everything. But I will put this shoe on again, from time to time, and maybe take it when travelling light.
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