By Tracey Leong

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The 17th annual Baltimore Running Festival is expecting more than 23,000 runners to participate this year.

The upgrades to this year’s course will highlight the beautiful Inner Harbor and encourage visitors to return to Baltimore throughout the year.

The running festival brings together athletes from around the world.

“We got 23,000 people coming to this city this weekend. That’s a great economic generator for Baltimore City,” said Mayor Catherine Pugh.

Runners from all 50 states and 34 different countries are traveling to the festival, which creates an annual economic impact of $40 million and brings in more than $1 million for local charities.

The unique race also highlights Baltimore’s diverse neighborhoods. Marathon runners will travel through the historic districts as well as the zoo.

“It’s going to be a venue which allows this event to promote itself nationally and internationally,” Baltimore Running Festival executive director Lee Corrigan.

For the returning runners, they’ll notice changes to the course including a new destination for the finish line.

“We are going to be finishing at the Inner Harbor, in the crown jewel of Baltimore, which is spectacular,” Corrigan said.

With thousands of participants, safety is a top priority, additional officers will be spread across the City and along the course.

“When citizens, residents, no matter where they are from pass the intersection and see a police officer smile and wave and keep them safe, that matters, particularly in this day and age, so we really take it very seriously to maintain the safety of events like this,” said Baltimore police commissioner Kevin Davis.

“Everyone gets in this game, this is one of the most exciting events we do,” Pugh said.

The Baltimore marathon race time is at 8 a.m. Saturday, but the streets impacted by the course will begin to close off around 5:30 that morning, so it’s recommended to plan ahead if you’re going to be traveling near the race route.

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