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Runners' Choice Circuit

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The CARA Runners' Choice Circuit provides a competitive structure and recognition for Chicagoland runners and clubs. The Circuit annually honors Chicagoland’s top runners and clubs with Runner of the Year and Club Champion titles. Comprised of various race distances, the Runners’ Choice Circuit providers all runners - both recreational and competitive - with the opportunity to chase personal, club, and competitive goals. 

Circuit Schedule (2023)

The Circuit features Chicagoland’s most well organized and well-appreciated races. Circuit races are found in both the city and suburbs and include both major world-class events and local club races alike. Circuit races are annually assembled with the input of CARA’s membership, the CARA Racing Committee, the CARA staff, and CARA Board of Directors.

Schedule Notes:


  • When races offer multiple distances, only the distance listed in the schedule counts for Circuit scoring.

  • Race events marked with an asterisk (*) are tentatively planning for the listed date.

  • Only in-person races and in-person registration options are included in the Circuit.

  • Some races may have limited capacity in 2023. Circuit runners are encouraged to register immediately after registration opens for any Circuit races they intend to participate in. Once races fill to capacity, CARA does not have the ability to force Circuit races to allow additional Circuit runners into an event.

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Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k

March 26, 2023

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Lakefront 10 Miler

April 16, 2023


Good Life Race 

April 30, 2023

Great Western Half Marathon

May 7, 2023

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CARA Spring Trail Chase 10k

May 21, 2023


Bank of America Chicago 13.1

June 4, 2023


Ricky Byrdsong Race Against Hate 5k

June 18, 2023

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Elmhurst Running Club
4 On The 4th

July 4, 2023


CARA's Chi-Town Miles
One Mile

July 29, 2023

Alpine Runners 10 Miler

August 20, 2023

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Hidden Gem
Half Marathon

September 9, 2023

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Lawndale 5k

September 30, 2023


Bank of America
Chicago Marathon

October 8, 2023

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Lake Bluff PTO
Pumpkin Chase 5k

October 28, 2023

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Fast Track Cross Country
Regionals 5K

November 12, 2023

Awards & Scoring (Individual)

CARA Racing Award

All runners have the opportunity to earn the CARA Racing Award in one of two ways:

  1. Finish 5 Runners' Choice Circuit races

  2. Finish any three CARA produced races (Lakefront 10 Miler / 5k, Miles Per Hour, CARA's Chi-Town Miles, Spring Trail Chase)


CARA Runners of the Year

Chicagoland's top runners are named Runner of the Year in the following categories: Overall, Non-Binary, Masters (ages 40+), Veteran (ages 50+), Senior (ages 60+), and Super Senior (ages 70+). Runners of the Year are selected by the CARA Racing Committee through Circuit success. Runners may win multiple Runner of the Year categories.


Individual Circuit Awards

Runners can earn recognition as Chicagoland's top runners in a variety of CARA Circuit categories.​

  • Overall - Top 10 Males and Females in Circuit Standings.

  • Age Graded - Top 10 Age-Graded runners (using age grading scoring).

  • Non-Binary - Top 3

  • Age Groups - Top 3 Per Category (Males and Females Ages: 14 & Under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85 & Over.).

  • Clydesdale/Athena - Top 3 Per Category (Clydesdale A = Males 185-199 pounds, Clydesdale B = Males 200-224 pounds, Clydesdale C = Males 225+ pounds, Athena A = Females 155-169 pounds, Athena B = Females 170+ pounds).


Scoring Rules

Membership: To be eligible for individual awards, runners must be a CARA Supporter Level Member by July 1 of the awarding year. Non-awards eligible runners will be dropped from the standings at the end of the season, but individual races will not be re-scored.

Registration: No special registration is needed to score in the Circuit's overall, non-binary, age-graded, or age-group categories. Registration is required for the Clydesdale/Athena categories. Those runners must register HERE.

Minimum Number of Races: To be award eligible, one must run a minimum of 5 of the 15 Circuit races. If there are race cancellations, then the minimum number of races will equal 1/3 of the total number of races, rounded down.


Maximum Races Scored:  Only scores from a runner's 8 best races count for their total score. All other scores are dropped. Runners 19 & under will only have their five best scores count for their total. Runners 14 & under may not score in races 10 miles and longer. If there are race cancellations, then the maximum number of scores counted will equal 1/2 of the total number of races, rounded down and plus one. 

Placing: For each gender, the top 25 runners receive points in the overall and age-graded categories (25 for first, 24 for second, etc.). For all other categories, the top 15 runners receive points (15 for first, 14 for second, etc.). Runners not receiving points are not including in the standings.

Residency: Runners are automatically scored if they are from the state of Illinois. Non-members not from Illinois will not be scored and their places are skipped in results. Out-of-state CARA members will be scored only after declaration of participation by e-mailing Scores will not be counted until such declaration.

Circuit Age Group Determination: A runner's age-group for individual Circuit scoring is determined by their age on July 1 of the awarding year, not age on each race day. Age on race day is used for age-graded and team scoring.


Ties: Ties in individual categories will be broken by totaling the tied runner's five best age-graded scores. If a tie remains, the tie will be broken by comparison of the tied runners best age-graded score. If still tied, this process will continue using the runners next best age-graded score until the tie is broken

Non-Binary: We want to acknowledge, respect, and provide opportunity for all competitors toexpress their desired pronouns. While CARA does not have the capacity to manage anindividual race’s registration process, we can update the Runner’s Choice Circuit scoring toaccommodate non-binary runners. Regarding age-graded scoring, World Masters Athletics does not have non-binary age-graded scoring tables. Therefore, non-binary runners will be age-graded versus the male tables. Non-binary runners may email withrequests to have their Circuit scoring updated for either of the previous reasons.

Clydesdale / Athena Rules:  All runners registered for this category, receive an age-graded score for each race based on the World Masters Athletics age-grading tables. The runners with the top age-graded scores receive points. For each weight division, first receives 15 points, second 14 points, third 13 points and so on. Runners participating in Clydesdale/Athena must register their intent to participate by July 1, 2023. After registering, runners must weigh in at the CARA tent at a CARA Circuit race to confirm their category. Weigh-ins must be completed by July 31. Weigh-in is ONLY available at the CARA tent at each race. Please note: effective 2023, runners may win awards in both age group and Clydesdale/Athena.


Awards & Scoring (Clubs / Teams)

To be eligible to score for a club/team, one must be a CARA Friend Level or Supporter Level Member, and included on applicable clubs/teams roster prior to being counted in scores. (Note: Non-members submitted on a club/team roster are automatically deemed CARA Friend Level members without the need for additional registration).

Club/Team Categories

Clubs and Teams may compete to be honored as the top clubs in the area in a variety of categories. Clubs/Teams need 3-5 runners, depending on category, to maximize their score. The top three clubs/teams are awarded at the end of the Circuit. 

  • Combined - Males and females combined, a club's rank at each race is determined by the combination of their top 5 runners age-graded scores.

  • Open (Male & Female) - For each gender, a club's rank at each race is determined by the addition of their top 5 runners' finish times.

  • Masters (Male & Female) - For each gender, a club's rank at each race is determined by the addition of the finish times of their top 3 runners, over 40 years old.

  • Veteran (Male & Female) - For each gender, a club's rank at each race is determined by the addition of the finish times of their top 3 runners, over 50 years old.

  • Senior (Male & Female) - For each gender, a club's rank at each race is determined by the addition of the addition of the finish times of their top 3 runners, over 60 years old.


Club/Team Scoring

  • For each category, teams receive points based upon their finish (15 points for 1st, 14 for 2nd, etc.).

  • Only scores from a team’s 8 best races count for their total score. All other scores are dropped.

  • Ties are broken by looking at the teams’ 9th best race. If a tie remains, then the process continues into the 10th race, etc. until the tie is broken. If teams are still tied when all races are counted, then a tie will be declared.

  • For the Combined category, age-graded scores are determined by age on race day.


Club/Team Registration

  • All area running clubs, racing teams, running groups, running store teams, and corporate running teams that have a membership roster are eligible to participate. 

  • There is no fee for clubs/teams, but registration is required.

  • Team captains must register and submit a roster of runners to score with each member to be included in scoring. Roster must include full name, gender, date of birth, city/state, and e-mail. Updates are allowed through the season but must be received at least 24 hours prior to each race to count new runners at that race.

  • Runners may only score for one club/team. If a runner is listed on multiple rosters, CARA will ask that runner to declare which team they are competing for.

  • To register, team captains must complete the registration form and roster template (Excel Doc.), and e-mail to

Awards Party

The CARA Runners Choice Circuit Awards Party for 2022 will be held at Chicago Theater Works on February 25th at 6:00 PM. For full details, visit our Awards Party page.

The CARA Runners Choice Circuit Awards Party for 2023 will be held in February, 2024, where Circuit winners will be awarded!

Hall of Fame

Runners are inducted to the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit Hall of Fame through long-standing success in the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit. Each year award winners are given five points for first place finishes in age-group and/or Clydesdale/Athena categories. Three points are awarded for a second-place finish, and 1 point for a third-place finish. Once a runner has earned 30 total points they are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Runners can earn points in both age-group or Clydesdale/Athena categories simultaneously. However, 30 points must be reached in solely one of the categories, not a combination of the two.

Awards History



2020 (Canceled)












Prior years not available.

Runners' Choice Circuit Facebook Group

Runners are encouraged to engage with fellow Circuit runners, and stay connected with latest news on our Runners' Choice Circuit Facebook Group.

CARA Racing Committee

The CARA Racing Committee, in collaboration with CARA staff, leads the CARA Circuit and represents participating local running clubs.

Erika Edmonson
Committee Chair
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Nick Bensen
Committee Member
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Lance Caldwell
Committee Member
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Brett Geschke
Committee Member
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Scott Mangum
Committee Member
Doug Pearson
Committee Member
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Brian Sweney
Committee Member
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Chris Willis
Committee Member
Angelica Guerrero
Committee Member
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