Sunday, February 05, 2023

Tracksmith Eliot Runner Multi Tester Review

Article by Ryan Eiler, Sally Reiley and Sam Winebaum

Tracksmith Eliot Runner ($198)


Sam: Tracksmith launches the Eliot Runner its first running shoe and a true to New England “prep” style trainer said to have “Classic New England Pep”. 

I have lived in New England most all my life, as do my fellow testers Sally and Ryan.  The pep comes from the changing seasons, the weather, the often dry attitudes, traditions, and famous schools! We are a tough bunch up here with near tropical summers and near Arctic winters so our gear needs to be versatile and ready for anything.

Eliot Runner uses state of the art materials and most notably a dual density PEBAX midsole with the sockliner about 2x thicker than usual at 10mm thick which is a major part of the midsole and softer than the lower PEBAX main carrier midsole, a firm tan outer coating on the midsole sidewalls for protection and stability, a trails secure engineered mesh upper and an all surfaces worthy “gum rubber” type outsole.  So it's loaded for New England roads and paths!

PEBAX foams being so light allows Tracksmith, even with that stout outsole (and rubber is the heaviest material in any shoe) to come in at 9.1 oz / 258g in my US8.5 sample with a stack height of 33.5mm heel and 24.5mm forefoot, 9mm drop so a “classic” daily trainer geometry and stack height  with the shoe’s weight also in that class.

Tracksmith says:

The Eliot started with a feeling many runners share - the delight in finding a natural surface while out for a run. Who hasn’t run the tightrope of a six-inch “trail” beside a wide asphalt bike path? Logging thousands of miles across New England, we found those moments on pine needle trails, wood chip paths, and old indoor tracks. In France, they’d call it “terroir.” In New England, we call it pretty great running. And that’s the sensation we wanted to bring to the roads – soft, resilient, responsive and ready for anything.

The construction and the above points to a shoe that is multi-purpose from road and light trail running , to the gym, to of course travel, casual and lifestyle uses. Does it try to do many things? Let’s find out!


Very secure comfortable trail shoe worthy upper : Sam/ Sally

Light trails worthy outsole : Sam / Ryan/Sally

Smooth flowing, responsive ride at faster paces , off the heels : Sam

Very stable making them also a good gym work choice : Sam / Ryan/ Sally

Beautifully styled, elegant and simple New England “prep” look: Sam / Ryan/ Sally

Versatile on multiple surfaces including dirt and light trail, to gym, to travel, to lifestyle: Sam/ Sally

30 day / 100 mile trial period: Ryan

Trademark Tracksmith use of top quality materials and attention to details combined with the classic vintage branding will not disappoint loyal Tracksmith fans. Sally


Not a particularly “friendly” ride especially a slower paces: firmer PEBAX foam and firm side wall coating less than ideal for an everyday trainer (especially given stout outsole), if highly responsive : Sam / Ryan

Don’t come here expecting a “pure” road running shoe, and Tracksmith doesn’t market it as such Sam/ Sally

Sidewall tan “skin” yes is protective but adds to rigidity and firmness Sam

Firm heel due to extensive (overdone) rubber coverage, not a great slow paces shoe : Sam / Ryan/ Sally

Lacks clear strong focus, trying to do to much?: Sam / Ryan

Outdated ride quality: Ryan/Sam

Forefoot feels a bit weak for moderate running: Ryan

Price: Ryan


Estimated Weight: 9.3 oz / 263gUS9   

  Sample Weights: men’s 9.1 oz  / 258g  US8.5, 9.5oz / 270g, US9.5

                              women’s: 8.0 oz / 226 g (US M6.5/W 8)

Stack Height: men’s 33.5 mm heel / 24.5 mm forefoot, 9mm drop

Available now. $198

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Ryan: Like Tracksmith’s apparel, the Eliot Runner is clean, classy, and aims to bring up feelings of nostalgia and old-school running culture. 

The brand-building experience is in full force as soon as you have the box in hand, as it feels about double the weight of a typical shoe box. 

Included in my media kit packaging is a leather-clad running journal, and a plaid, branded drawstring tote bag.

The white and off-white colored materials used throughout appear top quality, with a distinctive midfoot stripe leaving no question as to what brand of shoe this is. A spacer mesh lines the entirety of the upper, giving of a plush, casual vibe upon step in. 

The outer section of the upper utilizes an understated, classy engineered mesh which is plenty strong and holds the foot well. Bordering the outer perimeter of the heel and extending forward to function as eyelets, an off-white colored leatherette material ups the ‘old-school’ factor. 

The tongue is nicely cushioned without overdoing it and is gusseted, starting around the third eyelet down. 

The Eliot’s big, flat tubular laces are more looks than function, but they do completely eliminate any chance of lace bite. At the rear of the shoe, the heel counter is fairly stiff all the way to the top of the flared collar. Heel lockdown is solid, as the padded heel collar creates a distinctive enough cavity to resist any sort of lift.

Its embroidered PEBAX sock liner is especially thick, adding a nice amount of softness to the heel.

Despite giving the shoe a sleek, sporty look, I do wish the toe bumper was a bit taller up front. The toe box is of a relatively low height, and although it felt like it was constantly resting on the top of my bigger toes, it was plush enough that this wasn’t a big deal.

Initial step in was pleasant, as expected, if not a little ordinary. My immediate impression of the Eliot is of a casual runner’s shoe – not meant for blistering workouts, but rather the type of shoe that will happily handle some moderate running before or after a commute. 

The very simple, non-rockered geometry has a feeling underfoot of some of the traditional trainers I wore 5-10 years ago – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My M9.5 ran a bit long in the toe, so I’d consider going ½ size down on this one if you’re close.

Sam: Engineered mesh upper with a full gusset tongue. The blue side blue strap is a thick band of dense quite stiff mesh and clearly provides big medial support in combination with the gusset tongue but may add to weight and I think over done for road use. This upper, not considering durability or white color (black version now available)  has trail shoe worthy in its support

Fit is true to size and  performance oriented with my lower volume narrow to medium feet and correct for me with thin Tracksmith Speed socks but a bit too snug up front with thicker socks. The toe box is not super wide or high but quite unstructured.

Sally: The arrival of the Tracksmith box was an event. I had “pre-ordered” a pair back in August after earning a spot in “Corral One” enabling me to put down my $198 before the mass start of the buying frenzy. The box was gorgeous - glassy navy blue with the trademark Tracksmith sash across it. And inside that box was another navy blue Tracksmith box, this one not unlike the heavy duty boxes my parents used to store photographs in. Stamped with the gold Tracksmith Hare logo, this is definitely an attractive box that will be repurposed (I hope that this was their intent, because otherwise these are not the most environmentally friendly packages). The box is even lined with a sepia image of a New England country road. Class!

I live near Boston, and I must admit up front that I am a Tracksmith groupie, a fan of their high quality and high priced running apparel with its classic minimalist retro vibe, and a fan of the New England preppy Ivy League image that is embedded in the Tracksmith culture. 

Wearing Tracksmith has become a status symbol of sorts - it tells people that you care about quality, you prefer classic design, perhaps you went to an Ivy League school yourself (and even ran cross country on New England trails softened with fallen leaves), and yes, that you can afford to buy expensive running gear. PRESTIGE is the name of the game here. The beautiful Eliot Runner shoe is a natural extension of this, whether it is going to be worn on the run or around town.

The Eliot Runner fit me true to size in a W8. I found them best with a thin to medium sock (perfectly suited for the Tracksmith Speed sock) and had no issues with toe box length or height. My foot is on the narrow side, and these felt made to order for me. 

The feel underfoot is softer than I expected with plenty of give both under the heel and the forefoot. The gusseted tongue is luxuriously padded. Tracksmith did not spare anything with the details: the gold logo embroidered sockliner (with a poem inscribed on the underside), the classic navy blue sash running across both sides of the shoe, the suede ankle collar and lace eyelet strip, the gold stitching at the top of the sash, the trademark red and white striped pull tab at the heel, the old-school flat white laces… all this is classic Tracksmith ethos that will appeal to the discerning consumer/affluent runner. 

So now you know that I love the look of this shoe; let’s see how it runs!


Sam: We have a PEBAX midsole with upper softer thick PEBAX sockliner serving as a midsole layer and and clearly as part  of the cushioning. 

The PEBAX sockliner is 10mm thick so about 2x thicker than usual and is softer than the lower carrier PEBAX foam. “Tracksmith” is embroidered into the top fabric, a classy touch!

The underside of the sockliner has some inspiration embossed into it!

To my usual pressing of the sidewalls it feels quite firm but.. what we have is a firm outer off white protective (and aesthetic) coating of some kind to protect the foam and I think give the shoe extra stability. Added to that the lower PEBAX layer is quite firm and firm than the sockliner’s PEBAX. 

 I think the coating may be overdone and removes some of the PEBAX magic by over containing it. I thought right away of the Craft Pro Endur with its livelier feeling and easier flowing geometry and similar all PEBA midsoles with no side coating and an equally robust outsole. Much more fun that midsole.

The net effect, and for sure hinted at in Tracksmith product marketing, is that the Eliot felt better on dirt roads, golf course cart paths and light trails than on road where the stability and outsole start to shine and the midsole feel and flex is just about right.

Ryan: I’ll be honest — I heard “PEBAX” and expected a ton of midsole bounce. That’s not the case here, so don’t expect this to feel anything like Saucony’s ‘PWRRUN PB’ PEBA formulation. As with the upper, the midsole leans more toward comfort than outright performance, and it is indeed a very comfortable shoe. While the heel is moderately soft and absorbs a considerable amount of running impact, I wouldn’t describe this as a springy grade of foam.

The overall geometry of the midsole is one of the more basic ones out there. You won’t find any significant cutouts, pods, or deep groves — just one shallow channel that wishbones as it moves from heel to toe. It’s neutral on the support side, allowing your foot to pronate and roll as you wish, although it’s not nearly as wild a shoe as the NB Rebel.

There is a distinct difference in the amount of longitudinal flex between the heel and the forefoot. Whereas the rear portion of the midsole is fairly solid and supportive at impact, the forefoot of the shoe has enough flex and road feel to remind me of some old-school trainers. This all results in a feeling underfoot that is very natural and well suited to a mixture of activities, but it’s not one that I’d plan on using for high mileage.

I keep coming back to the simplicity of this whole package. The midsole performance won’t amaze you, but it’s pretty darn comfortable and can handle a wide range of lifestyles.

Sally: So many of the running shoes coming to market these days have copious stacks of foam, carbon plates, or aggressive rocker geometries; they all have their place and their purpose. This shoe is different. This shoe brings us back to basics, in a good way. It is simple and retro old school but with quality modern materials. The Pebax midsole is forgiving but not overly soft. The  10mm thick sockliner is squishier than the firmer Pebax midsole that it sits on, which is perhaps the point: it poetically invokes running on a trail through the woods covered in soft pine needles or fallen leaves. Ah, Robert Frost…

Everything about this shoe was comfortable for me. The midsole is not overly springy or bouncy, but just the right amount of soft. It seems to respond very much like an old-school trainer that can handle most paces, shining in the middle range between recovery run and tempo run. ANd it shines underfoot walking around town.


Ryan: The copious slab of gummy rubber looks great and delivers excellent grip. Its lightly nubbed texture is arguably aggressive enough to handle some light trails, and it always feels great underfoot when walking around. The outsole runs uninterrupted from heel to toe, helping to deliver a smooth and seamless transition. 

However, I do think there’s a bit too much of the stuff at the rear of the shoe for running on asphalt. It seems to impede the midsole from cushioning optimally, leading to a slightly harsh feeling upon impact. But for all other occasions, it’s hard to knock the classy aesthetic and comfort that this type of outsole supplies.

Sally: There is a lot of rubber here, but the lightness of the Pebax must balance out the package. I found the grip to be excellent on slick surfaces, and the ride luxuriously quiet (my pet peeve is a LOUD outsole). This amount of rubber will make it a versatile shoe that can handle light trails as well with good traction and durability. 

The outsole looks not unlike that of the Saucony Freedom.

(Tracksmith on top, Saucony Freedom below)

Sam: I agree with Ryan and Sally. Plenty of grip for multiple purposes but not an ideal pure run shoe outsole. 

There is too much continuous rear rubber not particularly well decoupled but very stable in feel leads to a quite firm heel particularly at slower paces. And yes this gum rubber type outsole reminds of the look and feel of the Freedom. Sometimes called “crystal rubber” I think while relatively firm it is too squishy seeming to squish outwards more than normal rubber leading to a less than snappy response. And there is a ton of rubber here promising excellent durability, front and rear stability, great grip but lots of added weight as rubber is the heaviest material in a running shoe and particularly one with a PEBAX midsole.


Ryan: There aren’t any fancy flourishes to muck up the ride here. On the same hand, the basic, firm midsole composition isn’t anything you’ll want to write home about. The heel is fairly firm, but still capable of damping an adequate amount of impact on the road. Unlike most other blends of PEBAX, this one is very responsive and well behaved, albeit lacking the energy return of the others. It’ll allow your natural amount of pronation without letting things get too sloppy.

The transition forward is seamless and simple, and in some ways seems like a bit of a nod to the vintage vibe of the Tracksmith brand. The Eliot relies on a relatively flat shape underfoot — definitely no rocker here, and again hinting at its casual undertones. While it always feels very planted and under control, the shoe doesn’t offer much in the propulsion department. There’s a nice sensation of being connected to the road, but this comes as a tradeoff to cushioning. Up front, the shoe’s forefoot feels fairly thin and underpowered, although I could see some folks liking the suppleness and feedback of the shoe at toe-off. 

There’s no drama here, just a basic, casual level of performance that feels slightly dated to me.

Sally: I agree with Ryan that the ride of this shoe is perfectly fine but nothing wildly exciting. It is an enjoyable ride that is smooth and natural and springy without being bouncy. There is pleasantly a decent amount of ground feel. There is some energy to the toe-off, but your foot must do some of the work

(seemingly the antithesis of current day maximalist cushioned plated running shoes that aim to “take the work out of running.”) 

Despite its great looks, this is not the shoe to show up at a starting line of a race in (unless you are going for prestige points, not a PR). This is the safe date you bring home to your mother, not the wild guy or gal you secretly have a crush on; your run (or walk) will be comfortable but unremarkable. Perfect to wear to work and after work as well as for the jog commute home.

Sam: The ride is as Ryan says overly well behaved and muted and especially for a shoe with a supercritical foam midsole. By sheathing the sidewalls with that firm coating and using the extensive gum rubber type outsole Tracksmith has delivered what I would call a very conservative old school ride with for sure some modern midsole feel of response but one that is overly constrained. On the plus side, its ride on moderate dirt and smooth unpaved is just fine and as a casual lifestyle shoe the support for days on feet and on the move is spot on.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Ryan: Other than some luxurious touches on the upper, the Eliot is fairly simple and straightforward. What this package amounts to is a beautiful looking shoe that works as well for casual occasions as it does for easy running. I can see the argument that the Eliot is in the midst of an identity crisis, and doesn’t know whether it wants to rip intervals or take the elevator. On the other hand, the case can also be made that this will be suitable for 90+% of situations an active adult encounters on a weekly basis. Just don’t expect it to keep up with a training-focused workhorse like a Pegasus, Nimbus, or 1080.

Ryan’s Score: 7.9/10 

(Deductions for ride quality, thin forefoot, harshness of midsole, overly-casual performance)

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊

Sally: Tracksmith’s first entry into footwear is what one would expect from Tracksmith: a beautiful classy clean retro aesthetic combined with top quality modern materials. Vintage looks combined with modern day performance. I love the look, and like the ride. This shoe is a versatile trainer that can go on easy to medium effort runs as well as to the gym or the office, on errands or to the ball game. It does a decent job in all of these roles, but won’t light the world on fire as a trainer for those runners seeking top performance. It might make a fine one quiver shoe for the runner who likes to run casually and comfortably and not concern themself with racing (that used to be me for several decades!). All in all, Tracksmith has succeeded in producing a versatile and attractive shoe that is consistent with their classic retro new england preppy/top quality vibe, and is sure to be a hit with their many enamored with the brand followers. 

Sally’s score: 8.3 / 10 

(Deductions for uninspired ride and casual wear leanings)

Smiles Score: 😊😊😊😊

Sam: I give the Eliot 5 Smiles for Style and 3 for Ride. A beautifully crafted shoe, its elegant simple looks are, as always with Tracksmith, New England old days inspired with an elegant prep school/Ivy, tennis or yacht club styling. 

While actually very light for all the upper support and rubber outsole at 9.1 oz due to its PEBAX midsole construction, unfortunately for pure run training purposes, on road, the attributes of high energy return and a lively ride from the supercritical foam are dulled by the sidewall coating and the overdone, especially at the heel firm and “rubbery” upfront riding outsole. 

Taken off the pavement, and Tracksmith calls out those forest paths, sides of bike paths and dirt roads, the Eliot is more in its element with its very secure almost trail shoe-like upper and quite aggressive traction.  

I think Tracksmith could have achieved better road performance, lighter weight, and those light off roads capabilities by toning down the firm sidewall coating, going with a less “classic” looking and better performing outsole rubber and outsole design, and lightening the upper. 

As a pure road run shoe many are better and more exciting performers for me although it was a trip down memory lane in a way as the ride reminded me in some ways of shoes of yore with its solid solid upper, firmer heel and flexible forefoot. 

All of this said if your needs are for a beautiful shoe you can wear for almost any occasion, commute or hit the gym in, travel, run dirt roads and with decent if a bit uninspired road performance then, even at $198 it ends up a decent value and just as all of Tracksmith non race apparel is for me with shared versatility for multiple uses and great styling 

In a next edition Tracksmith can either stay the course with a model that tries to do many things some very well, others not as well or maintain the look and essence of what the first edition sets out to do putting more weight on run performance by taking better advantage of the PEBAX foam midsole and by rethinking the sidewall coating and the outsole.

Sam’s Score:  8.88 /10

Ride: 8.6 Fit: 9.2 Value: 8.9 Style: 9.7

Ride: 😊😊😊

Style 😊😊😊😊😊+!

Watch Sam's Eliot Runner Video Review (14:29)


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Saucony Ride 15/16 (RTR Review)

Ryan: The Saucony is clearly a more performance-oriented shoe, and cares relatively little about clean looks and nostalgia, as does the Eliot. While both shoes have a fairly responsive midsole, the Ride’s is more suitable for tempo training and harder efforts. Both midsole foams lean on the harsher side on the scale of modern-day trainers.

The Eliot takes a more casual approach all around, focusing on a plush upper and loads of outsole rubber. By contrast, the Saucony’s upper feels thin (although lockdown is adequate in both) and its outsole has a more ideal balance of rubber in strategically placed locations. 

Sam: The Ride 15 and 16 are somewhat lighter, more highly cushioned and stacked, equally as secure in hold if with the more aggressive all terrain traction. Made with more conventional EVA/TPU foam they deliver a responsive smoother flowing ride than the Eliot. They are clearly a more road run focused option with a flashier more modern “sport” aesthetic. At $140 they are a better value for run training but won’t be on my feet nearly as often outside of running as the Eliot will be. 

Craft Pro Endur (RTR Review)

Sam: The Pro Endur also has a PEBA midsole but of a single density and with no sidewall coatings. At a 36mm heel / 27mm forefoot full stack height and approximately  9.42 oz  / 267g (US9 it is very similar in geometry and weight to the Eliot. It has an extensive “flatter” profile outsole that for the same mild off pavement I would take the Eliot has surprisingly good traction. It’s upper is more unstructured, lighter and not as well polished but adequate. The Craft has a considerably livelier quicker ride but that is not quite as stable as the Eliot but more fun.

Brandblack Kaiju (RTR Review)

Sam: The Kaiju is a max cushion rocker based trainer racer at a far lighter 8 oz weight,  deeper cushioning, a lower 4mm drop and a faster ride. Its midsole is a CO 2 expanded supercritical EVA It has a modern look but with a neat nod to history as its upper color way design reproduces the “dazzle ship” camouflage of World War i. Its upper, while not quite trail worthy, is lighter and easy fitting. At $265 it is above the Tracksmith in pricing with one paying for the light weight for cushion and performance focus, although much as the Tracksmith delivers it walks just fine so versatile for more lifestyle uses, if edgier ones!

The Tracksmith Eliot Runner is available at Tracksmith HERE 

in our White/Navy and now also in the Black below

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Tester Profiles

Ryan Eller A hopeless soccer career led Ryan to take up running, and after taking a decade-long break from competing, he is back racking up mileage whenever he can.  He calls the 2018 Boston Marathon the hardest race of his life, where he finished in 2:40, barely remembering his name at the finish line.  More recently he has solo time trialed the pandemic era 2020-2021 super shoes, often sub 15 minutes for 5K. Ryan has a PR of 2:19 from the 2022 Maine Marathon.

Sally is a lifelong runner and mother of five who agreed against her better judgment to run her first marathon at age 54; she has since run the past nine Boston Marathons, two NYC Marathons, and one Chicago, with the WMM Six Star Medal now in her sights. With a Boston PR of 3:25:55 in 2022 (9th place in AG) and two consecutive 2nd place in Age Group awards in NYC, she is about to run in the Abbott World Marathon Majors Age Group World Championships at the London Marathon on October 2, 2022 (W60-64). She also competes in USATF races with the team Greater Lowell Road Runners. To add meaning to her Boston Marathon races she runs with Team Eye and Ear and has raised over $260,000 for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital. Sally is 5’2’’ and 105 pounds and lives in Marblehead, MA, training outdoors year round.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 65 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range, if he is very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the stack / geometry of the shoe make it more a Kinvara-competitor than Ride? Although, with the copious amount of outsole, I could see the Ride-comparison. It just seems like its purpose and ride would be more like a Kinvara