“Stop the clock. Forget the tech. Slow down. There’s a time for competition, but it isn’t now. This is about you and the road.”
This is the first line in the Iffley Road manifesto and, in the year 2022 it seems more pertinent than ever. I know personally that, even being lucky enough to be able to shift my work from an office into the home, that there are added stressors everywhere – kids, finances, and this little thing called a pandemic. There are increased stimuli everywhere and sometimes a run can be something that is freeing and amazing if you let it be.
“We make kit for people who run to escape, to search, to think. For people who run for the journey, not the finish line. For people who run to slow down.”
For those of you who don’t know, Iffley Road is the Oxford track where Sir Roger Bannister ran the first sub four-minute mile. This naming, coupled with their manifesto, makes complete sense as Bannister was not a full-time athlete. He had other jobs and responsibilities and he ran because he could.
Just these first few sentences really has me excited to try out a couple items from this UK-based running apparel company, the Thorpe Merino Half Zip and Windsor Running Tights.
While these two items are relatively straightforward in their looks, Iffley Road as a whole seems to have this melting pot of high performance tech and designs, coupled with an understated retro feel and visuals that look as good off the running path as on. In fact, they often make just 50-100 of the same color of product, making their items pretty standalone and unique.
Thorpe Merino Half Zip
At first glance, the Thorpe Merino Half Zip looks like a simple and straightforward running top. The 3 different colors are muted and understated, and the cut is both classic and recognizable. You get a nice zip up top, and decent hug to the body, and a thumb holes at the end with fold-down cuffs – all really solid additions. Even the sleeves are the perfect length for someone like me with longer limbs.
But when you dig a little deeper, there is some really cool additional tech in this top.
Most of us probably own a tech shirt (or a dozen) that feature that sort of shiny tint to it. I have found these to be my last resort when running. But this top is made from their eco-drirelease fabric that that wicks sweat and dries four times quicker than cotton – making it possible to wear multiple times without washing if you desire. The 100% Italian merino wool is also very comfortable (and surprisingly not itchy – something I have found in new wool tops) to the touch and has kept me happy these past few weeks on some chilly runs in the 40’s and 50’s (and could probably hold up in the 30’s as well).
Looking close at the fabric you will notice the woven qualities and sort of raised pattern that is a staple in their apparel line. Color me impressed with this nice cold weather top.
Windsor Running Tights
I have been slowly coming around to wearing tights when running – and it’s solely due to comfortable and functional items like the Windsor Running Tights that have gotten me there. One big issue I have had with tights is almost too much compression coupled with a lack of “stayputtedness”. Yeah, I know that’s not a word, but I have been burned by pairs that sag and just become uncomfortable over the years. One of the problems of having a shrinking dad-butt.
These tights have been up for the challenge over the past month or so. There is a lot of flexibility in these (thanks to their Italian fabric with 4-way stretch) and they have stayed tight without issue (assisted by a nice internal draw cord). A small zipped pocket on the back can be used to hold a cell phone, but I have mostly utilized for a car key and debit card. The zips at the bottom are on the rear of the pants, something I haven’t really experienced before, and they hold a really secure grip with both the zipper and some added elasticity when done up (or down I guess). There is also some grip on the inside here, making it even more secure when wearing over socks or on bare legs.
If you are looking for running in really sub-optimal temperatures, this may not be for you if you tend to run (figuratively) cold. They absolutely are perfect for those cooler running days, but in some really cold temperatures they may not be the prime pair for that (not that they pretend to be). The bottom of the pants in my size fit more like joggers in length (ending an inch or so above the ankle) – which I actually really like. But if you are needing full leg coverage down to the shoe, that may cause you some pause.
Both of these items are great, but do come with a larger price tag. I would recommend reading up on their pricing philosophy to get a sense as to this. While we won’t make financial decisions for you, we do feel both of these items are going to be very long-term staples in our closet.
On top of all that, we wanted to point out Iffley Road’s commitment to sustainability. While they aren’t local to Oregon or the US, they primarily utilize factories in nearby countries in Europe and fabric sourced within the UK. So even though these are still coming from overseas, they may in fact be more “local” than some of the basic running gear you have in your closet already!
Company: Iffley Road
Products and Price:
- Thorpe Merino Half Zip (~$210 USD)
- 100% Italian merino wool
- 4 colors
- Windsor Running Tights (~$150 USD)
- 68% Polyamide, 32% Elastene
- 3 colors
Thank you to Iffley Road for providing us with a sample kit. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.