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Tracksmith’s New Cross-Country Collection is a Nod to 19th-Century Roots

Tracksmith's new cross-country collection is inspired by the sports 19th century British roots
Tracksmith’s new cross-country collection is inspired by the sports 19th century British roots. Tracksmith

If you’re a runner who’s never seen/worn a plaid racing singlet before, you’ve gotta’ get on your game. Inspired by traditional Scottish fabric patterns, Tracksmith delivers this old school gear with 21st-century performance tech, a 2:09 lightweight performance mesh with an anti-microbial finish that resists odors.

This is just one piece from a massive new collection from the Boston-based independent running brand. Just in time for cross-country season, its newest drop is a celebration of the sport’s spirit — in the Northeast and across the pond. 

According to Tracksmith, cross-country got its start in 19th-century Britain where it was known as the “paper chase,” or “Hares and Hounds.” Drawing inspiration from traditional gear in both old and New England, the running company built this clothing for runners and for fans, for race day and beyond.

The Tracksmith sash top, for example, is inspired by the late 1800s Cornell cross-country and track teams. Athletes garnered a satin sash when scoring points at league championships, which would be sewn over the “C” on their singlet shirt. Tracksmith hopes that this symbol of sport excellence will inspire runners to perform at a level worthy of those who’ve earned it in generations before.

In an attempt to recapture that classic cross-country magic, Tracksmith tested this new gear with runners at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Vermont’s verdant Northeast Kingdom. Home to internationally competitive cross-country skiing, biathlon, rowing, and running teams, the Center is an endurance athlete’s dream training ground, complete with a rolling race course and miles of scenic dirt roads. Trail running is the sport at its purest; sprinting across devilish dirt courses in all types of inclement weather. This combination of competition and natural challenges gives cross-country races a vitality and unpredictability you can’t find on the track or on road courses.

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Some cool days call for gloves, for example. Enter Tracksmith’s Harrier Gloves, inspired by Bill Rodgers, who won the 1975 and 1979 Boston Marathons and was known for racing in a pair of painter’s gloves. The Harriers upgrade that fabric with thermoregulating Merino wool and feature rib knit cuffs and Eliot the Hare insignia.

As cross-country runners know, running raises the body temp. That’s why Tracksmith has long asserted that bandanas are the ultimate running accessory. Whether tied ‘round the neck, holding up  hair, or dabbing sweat, it’s a small but critical component of the foot racer’s wardrobe. The running brand’s newest edition is 20-inches square, and delivered in a plaid.

Craftsmith even set out to craft a sideline blankets to keep both competitors and fans warm and happy. Built in collaboration with Faribault Woolen Mills, who have been working on blankets since the 19th century, they cover 42-by-65 inches — big enough for stretching and relaxing on and under.

This is just a small taste of the many mainstays and accessories now available from Tracksmith. Runners and others are all bound to find something at its store to participate in the sport. And if you haven’t raced cross country in a while, maybe it’s time to strap up and give it a go again. Careful, though — endorphins are addicting, and you might just fall in love.

Read More: Tracksmith’s Matt Taylor Found his Calling at Yale

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