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Tracksmith Eliot Runner Review: Tempting Shoes Even at a High Price

Rating: 9/10 ?
  • 1 - Does not work
  • 2 - Barely functional
  • 3 - Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 - Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 - Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 - Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 - Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 - Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 - Best-in-class
  • 10 - Borderline perfection
Price: $198
Eliot Runner shoes leaning against a wall
Tyler Hayes / LifeSavvy

Tracksmith has been busy making a name for itself around selling premium running appeal. That success has carried forward with the Tracksmith Eliot Runner shoes, the company’s first footwear and its latest step in expanding its product line, aimed at amateur runners and beyond.

Here's What We Like

  • Enough cushion for long runs
  • Midsole foam provides sufficient energy return
  • Lots of niceties across the entire shoe

And What We Don't

  • Not the lightest shoe on the market
  • Single color option (white) could look very dirty after hundreds of miles

LifeSavvy's expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews. Read more >>

Tracksmith’s Introduction to Running Shoes

Showing Eliot Runner shoes looking at the toe area
Tyler Hayes / LifeSavvy

  • Neutral everyday trainer
  • 9mm drop
  • Stack height 33.5mm at the heel and 24.5mm in the forefoot
  • 8oz (Mens 5.5 size) 9.2oz (Men’s 9 size)
  • Fits true to size
  • Medium width
  • All gender style in U.S. sizes

Tracksmith says its guiding light is that runners deserve better. The question, then, when examining the Eliot Runner shoes, is whether they deliver a better running experience for training, day in and day out. Is there a reason for them to exist at all? And even if they are compelling enough to be an option for consumers, should people really spend nearly $200 on these shoes?

I’ve spent the last three years averaging over three miles per day. In that time, I’ve run more than 3,500 miles. While I’m rarely training for anything specific, it does feel like these shoes, aimed at daily use, are perfectly targeted toward my running routine.

I’ve also spent a large chunk of that time testing running shoes for Newsweek. I’ve come to recognize a good daily trainer as one that has enough spring and bounce to make runs feel lively but isn’t so thick that it doesn’t feel nimble and connected to the ground.

To tease the ending a bit, the Tracksmith Eliot Runner are shoes worthy of the Tracksmith brand. Ultimately, they are a better daily trainer than a lot of the other options out there. I’m glad they exist.

The First Miles Wearing Eliot Runner

Looking at the Eliot Runner shoes from the top with laces showing
Tyler Hayes / LifeSavvy

My first run with Eliot Runner was a four-mile run that came in at just under a nine-minute pace per mile. My biggest surprise from that first run was that Nike’s Zoom Fly 4 was the first shoe that came to my mind in terms of how these Tracksmith shoes felt on first impression.

Eliot Runner uses a thicker-than-normal sockliner made from supercritical Pebax on top of a slightly firmer Pebax midsole. In my mind, this combination had a similar responsiveness to the Zoom Fly 4—on my first run. The sidewalls, tongue, and upper all felt like cousins to each other as well.

Tracksmith’s shoe doesn’t have a carbon fiber plate embedded in it like Nike’s does, so the Eliot Runner was not as rigid underfoot, but I still felt a great deal of similarity—more than Nike’s older Pegasus models, Reebok’s Floatride series, or Allbird’s latest running shoes.

On my second four-mile run, some of those similarities faded. The midsole didn’t feel as thick as it first had. I detected more pliability and flex in the midsole the second time around compared to the first. I also got a tad less energy return than I would have in the Zoom Fly 4, but with no plate in the Eliot Runner, I wouldn’t expect the same return.

By my third run, it was much easier to see how Eliot Runner was pretty different from the Zoom Fly 4. But the Eliot Runner’s foam never gave way to the hard realities of road running, the way so many daily trainers tend to do.

After these initial runs, the generous amount of comfortable padding throughout the upper still felt welcoming. The shoe covered my foot in a way that felt secure rather than smothering. The temperature was in the high 50 degrees Fahrenheit during most of my runs, so Southern California summers may yield different feelings on the overall breathability.

Because of a sizing mix-up, I ended up with a men’s 10.5 instead of an 11. I normally wear a 10.5 for casual shoes but had long switched to an 11 for my running shoes. I was surprised by how much room my toes had and very pleased that they never touched the front of the toe box, even while running downhill. I still ended up preferring the men’s size 11 when they arrived, but only because going up a half size provided a tiny bit more room throughout.

I wouldn’t describe the width as tight, but it was definitely snug along the sides of my foot. There’s a small chance your preferred size might be a little long for your liking, but I would still recommend ordering the same size you typically do for running shoes.

At the end of the first few runs and double-digit miles, I was impressed by the Tracksmith Eliot Runner’s ability to skit a typical break-in period. They trekked up hills and down, and I never once felt discomfort.

Beyond 25 Miles In the Eliot Runner Shoes

Looking at the bottom of the Eliot Runner shoes
Tyler Hayes / LifeSavvy

Beyond my first 25 miles in the Eliot Runner shoes, they have continued to feel sturdy, comfortable, and flexible enough to handle all suburban terrain types.

Over time, I found the midsole of the Tracksmith Eliot Runner to feel firm enough to help me keep moving, even on days I didn’t feel like it. The shoes were never soft or mushy. It can be a fine line between a shoe that’s too firm and unforgiving on your feet and one that doesn’t provide enough propulsion. Run after run, I found the Eliot Runner to thread that needle extremely well thanks to how the thick sockliner and firm midsole complimented each other.

Running across mossy sidewalks after a rain downpour presented the most trouble for the outsole traction. I never slipped, but it did present a slick situation that I had to pay attention to.

The internal heel lock or curvature of the shoe to keep my heel in place hit a little unexpectedly the first time I laced up the shoes, but it kept the back of my foot in place well. After a few minutes, I couldn’t feel it anymore, and long term, it never gave me blisters or rubbed funny.

My biggest criticism is that the shoes felt a tad heavy. At around 9.2oz for a men’s size 9, my men’s size 11 weren’t featherlight. I did like the Eliot Runner’s thick midsole and sockliner feel under my feet enough to appreciate the decision Tracksmith made balancing weight and material, but the shoes aren’t light.

The Finer Details

A close up of the Eliot Runner shoes from the side
Tyler Hayes / LifeSavvy

There are a few niceties present on the Tracksmith Eliot Runner. The eyelets are thin rectangular slits which makes it hard for the laces to become twisted. From unboxing through 30-plus miles, the laces always looked neat and tidy.

The laces themselves felt substantial. They stayed knotted without becoming loose, better than other laces I’ve tried. They didn’t feel like they would break if pulled hard—as some laces do. Though a little subjective, the laces were also a great length and could be double- or single-knotted, depending on preference.

While I didn’t feel overly attached to the shoes’ general style and design, I did get more compliments on the Eliot Runner shoes than I have on other running ones. They’re only available in a single white color which will certainly get dirty sooner rather than later. I ran in the rain and mud stained the toe areas almost immediately.

Should You Buy the Tracksmith Eliot Runner?

There are a plethora of good daily running shoes around the $100 price point and almost unlimited options if you raise that spending limit to $150-$160. Spending $40 or $50 more, on top of that, can feel monumental. But, if you can make the stretch, I do think Tracksmith’s Eliot Runner is worth its premium price for people running in it regularly.

The company is willing to bet that most people who try the shoes will feel the same. Tracksmith offers a 30-day or 100-mile guarantee for Eliot Runner. If you’re not satisfied, you can send them back for a refund.

I keep coming back to my first thought that these shoes felt a little boring when I first slipped them on my feet. But the result of being boring is not a curse. I consider it a blessing. Instead of being overly opinionated, the shoes disappeared on my feet and I was able to focus on other things. This was a constant from mile one through mile 30, I wasn’t worried about the shoes on my feet. A truly remarkable feat for Tracksmith’s first footwear that seems like it will last well into the future.

Rating: 9/10
Price: $198

Here’s What We Like

  • Enough cushion for long runs
  • Midsole foam provides sufficient energy return
  • Lots of niceties across the entire shoe

And What We Don't

  • Not the lightest shoe on the market
  • Single color option (white) could look very dirty after hundreds of miles

Tyler Hayes Tyler Hayes
Tyler Hayes first started freelance writing for Fast Company after spending a decade as a computer technician repairing computers and setting up home networks. Since 2013, he has contributed to dozens of publications, including The New York Times, WIRED, PCMag, Vice, and Shondaland. Read Full Bio »
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