Local athletics officials say they want to make the airport marathon an annual event after the success of Sunday's Standard Chartered '98 New Airport Marathon. But an alternative route will have to be found after the new airport at Chek Lap Kok becomes fully operational in the summer. Hong Kong Amateur Athletics Association (HKAAA) senior sport executive Anita Yiu said the association is keen to stage the marathon and the 10-kilometre race every year, but finding an alternative route would pose the biggest problem. A record-breaking 6,100 runners took part in Sunday's two races - 1,100 for the marathon and 5,000 for the 10-kilometre run. 'We have to discuss the new route with our technical committee, but I believe it can be done. We also will need support from sponsors and all the relevant government departments to make it happen again. Staging such an event is a huge task,' said Yiu. 'We want to promote athletics in Hong Kong and staging a marathon like this is one of the best ways to do this,' added Yiu. Sunday's race was the first marathon to be staged around the new airport, but Yiu said another finish at one of the two airport runways was unlikely. The marathon attracted a world-class field with the top three finishers all running inside the previous best Hong Kong marathon time recorded by China's Zhu Shuchun (2:15.37) at the 1986 Hong Kong International Marathon. Ethiopia's Belay Wolashe won the marathon in a lightning-fast two hours, 13 minutes and nine seconds (2:13.09) despite racing with a sore foot. He upstaged his countryman, Turbo Tumo, the 1996 New York Marathon runner-up, who finished well back and placed a disappointing sixth.