Thousands of runners will be hoping the weather gods smile on them tomorrow when they take on the annual City of Norwich Half Marathon.

Last year's race, sponsored by Larking Gowen, saw competitors forced to tackle giant puddles and muddy conditions as well as the tough 13.1-mile distance. The forecast looks somewhat better for the latest showcase though with Hugh McGill crossing his fingers for a drier outcome this time around.

The race director said: 'It would be nice if we had a nice day again. We've had a few challenging weather conditions in recent years and last year was very wet.

'It's not looking too bad as it stands, even if a cold snap is forecast to arrive. Sunday's meant to be mostly clear with a few showers – which of course we hope stay away.'

Ever since 1993 the event, all set for its 31st staging, has been held at the Norfolk Showground. That's where this weekend's action will start and finish but athletes and fun runners alike will take on a new single-lap route after the course was redesigned.

'The change was motivated by the increasing challenges of taking a loop twice (two laps) around Easton,' said McGill of the race, which will start at a slightly earlier time of 10.30am and could include up to 3,250 runners.

'There are a lot of businesses that weren't there a few years ago. While doing two laps gives us the benefit of setting up a smaller area, completing one lap means that once runners have passed by an area it can be returned to normal and traffic can flow freely again.'

Dan Watts will not be returning to defend the title he won in front of twin Glen. The pair's Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers' team-mate Kojo Kyereme will also be absent at the start line.

The 2014 ladies winner Colchester Harriers' Sarah Stradling – the Norwich Half's most successful participant of all time – is back in search of a sixth victory.