The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon has gained global recognition following a surprise move by the official international marathon sanctioning body to waive its three-year course qualifying rule and grant official status to the event, placing it on par with similar events in Boston, New York and London, according to an event organiser. The Association of International Marathons and Road Races (AIMS) officially added the Hong Kong marathon to its race calendar early this month, said William Ko, Hong Kong Amateur Ath letics Association chairman. In granting official recognition, the association broke with its tradition requiring a marathon be run on the same course for three successive years before endorsement. The re-classification means athletes competing in tomorrow's 26-mile marathon will log their finishing times as official results under the AIMS world ranking system. 'The event is now in the calendar as a full member of AIMS,' Mr Ko said. 'I hope this will make it the marathon of Asia.' 'It will lift the profile of the marathon internationally. I hope a lot more inter national runners will come and take part.' Mr Ko said the decision - announced during the Chinese New Year holidays - took race organisers by surprise. Organisers had written to the association requesting official status on the basis the event had been held for three years and government was committed to designating a permanent course. Mr Ko said official membership would place Hong Kong's marathon among the 120 top races in 50 countries. This will raise the profile of athletes and sponsors, and boost Hong Kong's stature as a cosmopolitan city.