Fila (, the founded-in-Italy activewear giant recently purchased by Maryland-based Sports Brands International (SBI), got a major PR boost yesterday when two of its sponsored athletes, Margaret Okayo and Martin Lel, captured the first-place women’s and men’s titles in the New York City Marathon.

Members of the Fila Team, Okayo and Lel, who both hail from Kenya, finished the famous race in 2:22:31 and 2:10:30, respectively. Okayo’s time is new women’s record in New York.

To celebrate its team victories, Fila will donate $100,000 to the City Parks Foundation, a New York organization that sponsors free recreational programs, including track and field events, in the city’s numerous parks. Fila’s president and CEO, John Epstein, had pledged the money before the race to give Fila Team members extra incentive to win.

At a press luncheon two days before the marathon, Epstein and other leaders of the recently revamped brand said that running will remain a core global focus. In addition to launching new technologically advanced footwear in the months ahead, Fila will continue its 11-year sponsorship of Discovery Kenya, a training program that develops elite marathon runners for global competition.

(Christopher Blomquist, North American Features Editor)