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Tracksmith Eliot Racer Prototype
Hybrid training and race day shoe with swappable drop-in sockliner
N/A, coming summer 2024
A year ago, the New England-based Tracksmith released its first foray into the running shoe realm with the Eliot Runner. That flagship model was basically a Vampire Weekend album in footwear form, tapping into our love of running back roads, relaxing on fishing piers as sailboats drift by, and using Oxford commas whenever possible.
Though it used a form of Pebax in the midsole, the Eliot Runner was essentially the ride of a mid-level daily trainer wrapped in the upper of an elevated lifestyle shoe. Call it a pretty Pegasus. I mean that in the best way possible– I wore the hell out of the Eliot Runner last summer and still consider it one of the best travel shoes you can buy, right next to the Norda 001.
By all measures, the shoe did well. It was in high demand and Tracksmith had no issues offloading inventory. Which is why I thought Tracksmith would just stay in that daily trainer lane, offering variations on the colors of the Eliot Runner, but keeping their canter to a one-shoe pony show.
But then sometime last fall we heard murmurs of a potential second shoe from Tracksmith, something race-oriented. Those rumors were confirmed when we saw and handled a prototype of said shoe back in December at The Running Event.
That shoe is the Tracksmith Eliot Racer Prototype.
Debuting today on Tracksmith’s website, the Eliot Racer Prototype is a brand-new take on a race day shoe. You’ve probably heard that phrase tossed around before. Every brand tries to convince you their newest shoe is going to change the world. Almost all of those claims are false. But truly, this is different. For better or for worse? That remains to be seen.
Full disclaimer: We have limited info on the shoe since it is still a prototype. No weight, stack height, or drop. That said, we do have key details about the shoe, so let’s get on with it.
The most defining aspect about this shoe is an experiment in midsole design that may or may not be a trend in running at the moment: the removable/replaceable drop-in midsole, which Tracksmith calls a “removable sockliner.” We’ve seen this done on the trail side, most notably in the Speedland trail models, as well as the upcoming Nnormal Kboix. We’ve yet to see it on the road side, especially in a race day model.
For Tracksmith, the removable sockliner embodies the “why” of this shoe. It’s a carbon-plated race day shoe, yes– but it’s so much more. That’s because the Eliot Racer will come standard with not one, but two supercritical midsoles. One for training and one for race day. The idea is that runners can rack up training miles in the standard sockliner, allowing them to break it in and adjust to their own foot. Come race day, they can swap in a fresh sockliner specifically designed for speed, essentially building a new shoe within a familiar one.
Tracksmith’s dedication to amateur runners is undoubtedly unmatched within the industry. Supporting the unsupported has basically become a core value of the company. It’s most evident in their Amateur Support Program (ASP), a scaffolding structure that provides elite amateurs with a kit, competition expenses, and on-the-ground support at key events. It essentially connects the dots between those toiling in the trenches to the fully sponsored athletes on top.
As you can imagine, the spirit of the Eliot Racer is purposefully aligned with the goals of the ASP; footwear is obviously a key part of any runners’ success, and those footwear expenses add up when you’re clocking 100+ mile weeks. Using a shoe with swappable parts means lower expenses and– as an added bonus– it’s actually sustainable. In this case, more moving parts means fewer trashed pieces.
Testing of the shoe has been done (and continues to be done) through the ASP athletes as well; indeed, a handful of them will be running in the shoe at the Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando this weekend.
As far as the rest of the shoe, we can assume the weight will be kept down as much as possible, though we don’t have official confirmation of that just yet. But that would mean a lightweight, engineered mesh upper and strategic rubber placement on the outsole. As noted above, as is standard with all race day shoes, there will be a carbon fiber plate to aid in propulsion and foam stabilization.
The midsole will be a variation of a TPU supercritical foam; according to Tracksmith, their “independent lab testing indicates it’s the top performing shoe they tested, and that freeing TPU to move without being constrained by adhesives is what provides that performance.” Of course, it’s always amazing that every brand manages to find an independent lab to say the exact same thing about their race day shoes. We’ll have to wait and see if the test results match our own experience in the shoe before we come to our own conclusions.
Concerning the design, it stays true to the spirit of Tracksmith. The first pass of the shoe will feature the iconic race sash in gold on both the lateral and medial sides against an off-white/cream upper, with small hits of Tracksmith styling throughout.
We don’t have a price on it yet, but you can probably extrapolate the ballpark cost if you compare it to the Eliot Runner and use the premium-priced sliding scale of Tracksmith goods. At the very least, you know it’ll end in an “8”.
And while the “Prototype” tag remains on the name of the shoe at present, it will likely get dropped once it becomes commercially available later this year. Meaning, you can expect to purchase the Tracksmith Eliot Racer sometime in summer 2024 (we’re assuming they’ll also have a presale for the shoe, as was the case with the Eliot Runner.)
While the actual performance remains to be seen, we appreciate the ingenuity and the experimentation with the Eliot Racer. If nothing else, the idea of a replaceable midsole (which we hope you can buy more of in the future) means less waste. No small feat, especially when most brands are content to use performative greenwashing to score eco points.
To learn more about the shoe, head over to Tracksmith.com for a more in-depth look at the shoe.Check out the Tracksmith Eliot Racer
Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.More from Robbe