It's the weekend that athletes from across the area and across the world have been training for, and this year a new course for the longer races means times will improve and records could be broken.

The Ottawa Race Weekend has been happening for over 30 years and is one of the fastest growing races in the world.

Over 40,000 participants in racing varying from the kid's marathon to the full marathon Sunday, which serves as Canada's national marathon championship and a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

"It's an event for everybody," said John Halvorsen, Ottawa Race Weekend president. "This is one of those times when an amateur runner can essentially line up with a national team competition."

New this year, besides tweaking the medal design and moving the pre-race expo to the new convention centre, are the routes for the ten kilometre, half-marathon and marathon races.

Organizers said the new course through Chinatown and Little Italy will make it easier for supporters to cheer on the runners, while making the course flatter and hopefully faster.

"Our new route was also designed to be flatter in some areas and help competitive runners achieve better times while showcasing Ottawa's beautiful urban neighbourhoods," said Jim Robinson, general manager of Run Ottawa in a news release.

Even for those who won't be threatening Haile Gebrselassie's world record time of two hours three minutes fifty-nine seconds (set in Berlin in 2008), it's a chance to set a training goal to keep motivated.

"It's a big family event, it's a big motivation," said Cindy L'Heureux on Friday. "That's why we all come together to get the race kits get psyched up the night before."

"Well because it's a big event and lots of people," said Tatiana Dobrovolska. "I love Ottawa and I've been here many times but never for a race so I just thought it would be cool."

With people coming together from all over, it's also a boon for Ottawa tourism.

It's estimated it could make up to $30 million for the local economy, and it has raised over $7 million for the Ottawa Hospital Foundation through the years - one of 15 charities helped by this year's Race Weekend.

Races are throughout the weekend, with two-kilometre, five-kilometre and ten-kilometre distances on Saturday and the half and full marathons happening Sunday.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Katie Griffin and Terry Marcotte