The image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics is one of the most powerful moments in not just sports history, but American history. With their gloved fists raised, they stood on the podium, silent in protest against the racial injustices of the times. Critics be damned, this righteous act of standing for what you believe in has become an iconic image in the continued fight for social justice.
Smith and Carlos certainly made an impact on both running and the world that night in Mexico City, but the running program where they honed their craft has even more history in establishing this culture of courage. Speed City, the iconic San Jose State running program led by legendary coach Bud Winter, produced countless athletes that not only advanced the standards of running, but also continuously fought for social justice efforts, most notably through the creation of the Olympic Project for Human Rights and the 1968 Mexico City protest.
To honor the legacy of Speed City, both on and off the track, Puma and Tracksmith have teamed up for a limited-edition collection of running apparel and footwear. The Speed City Collection harkens back to the mid-century looks, inspired by archival images of the team's signature uniforms and warm-up kits. The all-new lineup reimagines these pieces with modern performance and technical fabrics for a collaborative effort not typically seen in the sporting world.
"It's frankly rare for two sporting brands to work together in this way, but we were both so inspired by this story and the possibility of presenting it through a unique approach to both product and storytelling," says Tracksmith founder and CEO, Matt Taylor. "It's no understatement to say that the Speed City program changed both running and the world. We're proud to celebrate the legacy of these athletes who were at the forefront of both human performance and using their platform to drive social change."
What's Included in the Speed City Collection?
With inspiration from 1960s track and field events, the Speed City Collection packs purpose, aesthetics and performance into every piece. According to the brand, key styles include a lightweight racing-style singlet with the signature Speed City sash, fleece warm-up pants and jackets that perfectly capture the Speed City vibe and a classic 3-inch split short cut for record-breaking speed.
Additionally, Puma will also offer a limited-edition Speed City silhouette of the brand's popular Deviate Nitro Elite running shoe. Designed for race day explosiveness, this runner features a responsive carbon fiber INNOPLATE for maximum energy return, as well as NITRO Elite cushioning for lightweight comfort.
Want to Learn More About the Speed City Story? Puma and Tracksmith Have You Covered
The Speed City Collection encapsulates this powerful program through style and looks, but the history cannot be told solely through a new running kit — no matter how impressive it is. To help support the release, and educate the masses on just how important this small running program is to society, Puma and Tracksmith worked with Pushkin Industries to produce a six-episode podcast series exploring various stories surrounding Speed City.
Writer and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell provides an in-depth look at the history of the collegiate running program, as well as its influence on both today's culture and running scene, in "Legacy of Speed." The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, as well as Spotify and other major platforms.
Where to Get the Puma x Tracksmith Speed City Collection
Starting Thursday, August 18, the Speed City kit will be available on both Puma and Tracksmith sites, respectively. Pieces range from $45–$200, which aligns with the typical offerings of these two sports brands. Also, according to Tracksmith, five percent of all Speed City Collection sales made on Tracksmith.com will go to benefit the Tracksmith Foundation, with an aim to protect and create opportunities for youth and collegiate track and field athletes.
Speed City's impact should never be forgotten. Now, the culture of courage has a uniform, too.