If tasked with making a "runner's wishlist" of the wildest desires I've had while going the distance, it would look something like this: a playlist that hits 100 percent of the time, a drone-box fan hybrid that would hover beside me on sweltering summer runs, and an endless rotation of different terrains (mountains, beach, desert) right outside my door for constant variety. Though Tracksmith running shoes would be pretty darn high on this wishlist, too. The brand's simple, elegantly designed staples have captured my half-marathon-racing heart in recent years. And miraculously, with the launch of Eliot Runner ($198), Tracksmith's first-ever running shoe, it seems one of my running dreams is coming true.
The first thing you need to know about the Eliot (available for pre-order right now, shipping in mid-December) is that it's nothing flashy. Like Tracksmith's other pieces, there's a stripped-down, New England casual aesthetic to these kicks, which are currently only available in white with (no surprise) the brand's singular stripe across the side. When you hold the shoe in your hand, its simplicity offers the immediate impression that Tracksmith's take on a training shoe isn't following in the footsteps of running market trends (think: vibrant colorways, carbon plates, and pressurized air units). Instead, it's intent on following the beating heart of running itself.
The story of many running shoes starts with the sole. The Eliot is outfitted with a Supercritical Pebax®—the "gold standard" insole and midsole combination that softens the terrain below your feet. However, Tracksmith has made it clear that the Eliot is in no way meant to disguise the terrain beneath your feet. "The Eliot started with a feeling many runners share—the delight in finding a natural surface while out for a run," reads the product description. In other words, the sole softens your stride slightly so that you can enjoy the road (or trail or sand) ahead of you while still experiencing the unrelenting joy of high energy return.
The Eliot is launching in U.S. women's sizes 5.5 through 11 and U.S. men's sizes 7 to 13. If you do pick up a pair and decide they're not for you, the brand offers you the chance to return the shoes within 30 days or 100 miles of purchase. But before you run to get on the waitlist, scroll down to hear about my first-hand experience lacing up these sneakers for a few incredible miles in upstate New York.
Taking the Tracksmith Eliot Runner out for a run (or three)
My first run in the Eliots was a hilly route with a big group of journalists who got together in Accord, New York, to give the sneaker a test drive. The fall foliage around us looked plucked straight out of the Tracksmith Instagram feed, so it felt like an apt day to lace up the brand's first sneaker.
Once we were ready to go, we took off running at an easy pace. Although the shoes had felt slightly hard when I was just walking around in them, they seemed to awaken the moment my steps quickened. They weren't as bouncy as, say, a Hoka or a New Balance option, but they did have a springiness that I didn't expect when I first put them on. The miles went by, and before I knew it, we'd stopped to do a few quick strides.
Surprisingly, the sneakers held up just as well at a speedier pace as they did at that more easy-going gait we coasted in for half the run. And as we started our cooldown, I realized I was pretty smitten with my new kicks.
Here's the thing: Running in the Eliot feels simple, just as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. And as I've taken my pair out for more and more miles, I continue to appreciate the reminder not to overcomplicate things, especially joyful things—like running.
As I wrote in a particularly dorky running essay from a few years back, "Running shoes hold the tactile memory of every bridge, beach, or forest I've ever covered. They're a memory capsule of my footsteps, but before that, they're something even better. The right pair of sneakers can give you what you need." I still believe that, and right now, I'm letting the Eliots remind me that I need to let running be its simple self (no perfect playlist or drone-box fan intervention needed).
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