A group representing runners from all 50 U.S. states yesterday called on the running industry to "do better" when it comes to the quantity of running-related products offered for sale.
The appeal came during a hastily called press conference at the San Diego headquarters of the National Association for Runners and Joggers (NARJ).
"The nation's running enthusiasts are fed up," NARJ President Loni Anderson told reporters. "Today we ask—nay, we demand—that makers of running shoes, gear, apparel, accessories, and nutrition products step up and introduce more things that we can purchase."
She pointed to socks as an example.
"The website of a popular running gear retailer lists a paltry 149 kinds of running socks for sale," she said. "This, from only 16 brands—and available in just five varieties of thickness, and six lengths."
"This is unacceptable."
She did not stop there. In a fiery speech that lasted nearly 25 minutes, Anderson went on to lambaste companies that produce everything from electronics to massage accessories to technical running jackets, bemoaning what she called "pathetic" selection in each category.
Makers of nutrition products came in for some of the fiercest criticism.
"Going back to that same running gear retailer," she said, "let's say you're shopping for fuel."
"Good luck," she continued. "When it comes to hydration products, you'll find a measly 29 types from just six brands. Gels and chews? Just 20 kinds, from eight brands."
"When it comes to variety in our running products, we are dying of thirst, and hunger, in the most prosperous nation on earth."
Responding to Anderson's remarks, a spokesman for the Berlin-based World Kollectiv on Running Products said his group heard the message loud and clear.
"WKRP is committed to giving runners what they want," said Les Nessman. "And it's clear, now more than ever, that what runners want is more stuff that they can buy."
"We will do our best," he said, "to meet that demand."