Membership - Chicago Area Runners Association

Become part of the area’s premier running organization today, and let’s run Chicagoland together!

As a member of Chicago Area Runners Association - CARA, you are part of an organization that has served the Chicago area running community since 1978! Starting as the local running club, CARA has grown into the organization that championed the running movement across Chicagoland.

Renew your CARA Membership or join today and help support our local running community.

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As a non-profit organization, we operate with a small staff and rely upon membership contributions and volunteers to support the local running community. Here’s how being a CARA member helps:

From our humble, but outspoken, beginnings fighting on behalf of local runners for better racing conditions, CARA’s focus was and continues to be on safeguarding the sport we love and developing an inclusive, open community of runners in which talent can flourish and opportunities can be enjoyed by all. From our ongoing work with park district, city and suburban forest preserve officials to establish and maintain safe, functional running trails, to CARA’s ‘Go Run program – a free, neighborhood based series designed to activate local parks and build organic running communities – CARA’ s motivation is always to support, expand, defend, and champion running throughout Chicagoland.

Training and Charities
CARA’s volunteer led training program can get you ready for your first run, first marathon, or first ‘BQ’ Boston Qualifier. These training programs take place in your neighborhoods… Lakeshore East, Darien, Libertyville, Montrose Harbor, Niles, Oak Forest, Schaumburg and Wheaton. If you want to make your miles more meaningful, CARA partners with more than 50 local charities, providing subsidized training and recruitment opportunities to help other area nonprofits raise funds for a range of incredibly worthwhile causes. Through our partnerships with charities around fundraising activities for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, in 2016 CARA’s summer marathon training program supported in excess of 1,000 fundraising marathoners!

Our Youth Race Series in the CARA Runners’ Choice Circuit Races awards girls and boys in 7 age categories.  We are leading the green movement in running by providing Green Race Certification for local races. CARA in effect offers a consistent “standard” to measure best practices on event sustainability, recycling and the elimination of plastic in an effort to reduce an event’s carbon footprint

We have made major investments in digital technology, designing and delivering on a new website for an improved experience, enhanced member features, and mobile registration capabilities. As a free service, the CARA race calendar is open to all races and offers one of the most comprehensive local race calendar listings in the Chicago area.


  • Annual Individual Membership starts at $50.  Learn more.
  • Family Memberships offer a discount. Learn more.
  • Guaranteed entry in the Chicago Marathon through MIP: Opportunity to qualify for a guaranteed entry in the Chicago Marathon, through the CARA Marathon Incentive Program. Get your entry secured before the lottery opens! Learn more.
  • Get involved through volunteering... Be a Group Leader, Roads Scholars mentor, support local races, partner events and community clean up activities.
  • Discounts on CARA Training Programs (Marathon, Half Marathon, etc.)
  • Discounted entry fees for many local races - get a quick return on your investment! (Login to your member profile to get discount codes)
  • Exclusive CARA members only race day gear check and tents at select races
  • Race and compete for awards on the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit Races. Learn more.
  • One-year subscription to Runners World magazine.
  • Discounts at CARA Community Partners.
  • 24-hour Injury Hotline and access to NovaCare physical therapists.

The rewards and benefits you recieve on products and services, as well as CARA training programs and races, easily covers your annual membership dues.

Login to your membership profile on your mobile device to find your digital membership card to present when visiting the businesses listed below. Inquire at each one for details.

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Marathon Believer

"Never imagined I could run a marathon but training with the fantastic CARA group out of Wheaton showed me I could! Did my second this year and I am hooked! "
-Suzanne G.


Join Today!

CARA is the source for all things running in Chicagoland. Join us today and run farther, faster, better, for life!

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