Compete on the 2016 CARA Runners' Choice Circuit for your chance to secure a guaranteed spot in the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

2016 CARA Marathon Incentive Program

(2017 MIP plans are still being developed. Please check back later)

The Chicago Area Runners Association and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon have teamed up to reward CARA members and promote local race participation by encouraging participation in  2016 CARA Circuit Races - 15 races across Cook, Lake, and DuPage counties. CARA members have the opportunity to access a guaranteed entry into the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon by doing in 2016 what CARA members love to do: run, race and embrace the Chicago area running community through volunteerism!

New for 2016, CARA Marathon Incentive Program (MIP) eligibility is now achieved through a 5+2 program. Simply run five CARA Runners’ Choice Circuit races and volunteer for two +2 volunteer events to qualify.  Those successfully completing the requirements of the Marathon Incentive Program in 2016 will become eligible for a guaranteed entry into the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Requirements:  To become eligible for the Marathon Incentive Program, runners must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete a minimum of five races on the 2016 CARA Runners’ Choice Circuit. Runners must complete the race and be included on the official results with a finish time and place.
  • Sign up and volunteer for two (2) Marathon Incentive Program +2 credit volunteer roles (shifts) supporting the 2016 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K and or 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon; estimated number of hours per shift: 5.0 hours. (Note:  Not all volunteer roles with the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K or Bank of America Chicago Marathon provide Marathon Incentive Program +2 credit).
  • Hold CARA membership by July 1, 2016 and remain an active member at the time of MIP application.

Application Process:  Runners do not need to register for the Marathon Incentive Program prior to beginning requirements. After completing all requirements, runners must complete and submit a Marathon Incentive Program application. All requirements must be complete prior to submission. Applications will be available beginning October 30th at 7am. Applications must include full name, contact information, CARA member number, race participation requirement fulfillment information, and +2 volunteer requirement fulfillment information. While the program does have a capacity, we do not expect to exceed that capacity. We expect, but cannot guarantee, that everyone who completes the requirements will receive a MIP entry.

Confirmation Process:  CARA and Bank of America Chicago Marathon staff will confirm all information submitted. Information that cannot be confirmed will not be accepted. Applications that do not show ALL requirements completed, or that contain incomplete or inaccurate information will not be considered and will be discarded. Applicants may NOT update submitted forms after submission. To update or correct an application one must submit a new form and their order of consideration will be that of the new form.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q - What happens if there are more MIP eligible runners than there are available entries? 

A – Due to the limited number of entries, entry through the MIP is not guaranteed to all applicants. Entries are available on a first-come first-serve basis during the 2017 application window. Additional entries will not be awarded once the program capacity is reached.

Q – How is it determined who gets the entries first?

A – Entries will be awarded to qualifiers in the order that their completed and qualified applications are received. No other process or standard will be used to separate applicant’s order of acceptance.

Q – If I don’t receive an MIP entry what are my options?

A – Runners who do not receive a MIP guaranteed entry will have the opportunity to enter the Bank of America Chicago Marathon under normal registration procedures.

Q – If I qualify for a 2017 MIP entry but do not run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2017 can I defer my MIP entry?

A – No, qualification must be completed annually. One should not apply for the MIP program if they do not intend to run the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon or already have an entry for the event. Accepting an entry that one does not intend to use prevents another runner from receiving an entry.

Q – Can I transfer my MIP entry to another runner?

A – No, MIP entries are only for those who qualify and are awarded the entry.

Q – If I qualify in 2017 but do not receive an entry due to maximum entries being reach, do I receive an entry for 2018?

A – No, qualification must be completed annually. Runners must qualify and register for each year’s program.

Q – Is there a fee to participate in the Marathon Incentive Program?

A – No. However, members who receive an MIP entry will be required to complete the Bank of America Chicago Marathon registration process and pay the 2017 entry fee.

Q – I volunteered for the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K and / or Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a role that was not specific for Marathon Incentive Program +2 credit, does this count towards my volunteer requirements?

A – No, the MIP volunteer requirements must be completed using only specific MIP +2 credit volunteer opportunities.  You are not limited to these roles, but only these roles will count towards MIP.

Q – I have run more than five races around Chicagoland, but they are not CARA Runners’ Choice Circuit races, may I use these races towards my participation requirement?

A – No, the MIP participation requirements must be completed using only 2016 CARA Runners’ Choice Circuit races. These races have been included in the Marathon Incentive Program due to their commitment to meeting the CARA’s Best Practices Guidelines which have been designed to insure a quality, safe and successful race. 


Upcoming Volunteer Opportunity sign-ups which qualifying for the CARA Marathon Incentive Program:  Click Here

List of eligible CARA Circuit Races:  Click Here

If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the CARA Marathon Incentive Program, please email


CARA Runners' Choice Circuit

Circuit Poster for the 2015 CARA Runners' Choice Circuit Races


The 2015 CARA Circuit Races have been announced.  Check out the full line up on the new CARA Circuit race poster.

Wintrust Lakefront 10 Miler and 5K March 18, 2017

Countdown to Raceday!