One Oklahoma City marathon runner's simple tribute to Boston — to wear red socks — sparked a movement and left local retailers rushing to keep up.
When Andrea Miles first began sharing her idea with fellow runners, she thought maybe a couple dozen people would wear red socks to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on Sunday to support the city of Boston, home of the Red Sox. She created a Facebook page and within a week, had more than 300 followers.
Supporters caused a run on red socks. Local running stores quickly sold out, if they had any to begin with, and began contacting suppliers for rush shipments of red socks and alternatives such as compression sleeves, which cover the runner from ankle to knee.
“You can't just buy a pair of cotton red socks,” said Lori Dreiling, co-owner of Fleet Feet. “They have to last through 26 miles.” Regular athletic socks don't provide enough moisture management and could give the runner blisters.
She said Fleet Feet, which has two stores in Tulsa, hadn't stocked red socks before. The stores have been receiving 30 to 40 phone calls a day from customers asking for red socks.
Same story at OK Runner, which has stores in Edmond and Norman. Owner Tim Thompson said they had about 50 pair in stock last week, but sold out in two days. Shipments of 250 pairs of red compression sleeves were delivered Wednesday and Thursday to satisfy demand.
“It's been the craziest thing. I've never seen this big of a craze in anything in my 22 years of retail,” Thompson said.
Many runners prefer the compression sleeves because they can keep wearing their normal running socks, but the sleeves cost $40 to $60 a pair.
With the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Health & Fitness Expo opening Friday at the Cox Convention Center, OK Runner and Red Coyote Running and Fitness are directing customers to the event to buy red socks and compression sleeves to wear Sunday. Red Coyote even posted a sign on its door Thursday, to notify customers.
The retailers say they'll donate proceeds from sales of red socks to the One Fund Boston, which had collected more than $24.7 million as of Thursday afternoon for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.
Miles, who will be running the half marathon on Sunday, said the people of Oklahoma City feel a strong connection to Boston because both cities have experienced a terrorist attack and both have risen above it.
“The Oklahoma City marathon is special,” she said. “It's more than just a race. It's an affirmation. So to be able to support Boston in any way, even if it's just red socks ... it will be incredible to see a sea of red socks running down Broadway.”
Where to buy red running socks:
• Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Health & Fitness Expo at the Cox Convention Center. The expo is open noon to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
• Red Coyote Running and Fitness, 5800 N Classen (at the expo).
• OK Runner, 1189 E 15 in Edmond and 3720 W Robinson in Norman (at the expo).
• Fleet Feet Sports is holding its own expo sale at the Kings
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