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 (2021)

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.

  • Due to COVID19 guidelines, many races will have limited capacity in 2021. Circuit runners are encouraged to register immediately after registration opens for any Circuit races they intend to participate in. Once race's fill to capacity, CARA does not have the ability to force Circuit races to allow additional Circuit runners into an event.



Lakefront 10 Miler

April 17, 2021

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Quarryman Challenge

10 Mile

May 8, 2021

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Spring Trail

Chase 10K

May 22 & 23, 2021

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Cosley Zoo

Run for the Animals 10K

June 5, 2021

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Elmhurst Running Club

4 on the 4th

July 3, 2021

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Chi-Town Miles

One-Mile (Track)

July 31, 2021


Summer Trail

Chase 5K

August 14, 2021

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Hidden Gem


September 11, 2021



October 3, 2021


Bank of America

Chicago Marathon

October 10, 2021

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Lake Bluff PTO

Pumpkin Chase 5K

October 23, 2021


Turkey Trot 10K

November 21, 2021

Awards & Scoring (Individual)

CARA Racing Award

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

  1. Finish 10 CARA Certified races

  2. Finish 4 Runners' Choice Circuit races

  3. Finish any three CARA produced races (Wintrust Lakefront 10 Miler / 5k, Honda Miles Per Hour, CARA's Chi-Town Miles, Spring Trail Chase, Summer Trail Chase, or Autumn Trail Chase)


CARA Runners of the Year

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


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).

  • 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 individuals 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, 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 for 2021, one must run a minimum of 4 of the 12 Circuit races. 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 7 best races count for their total score. All of their 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. The maximum number of scores counted will equal 1/2 of the total number of races, plus one. That number rounded down.

Placing: For each gender, the top 25 runners receive points in the overall and age-graded categories (25 for first, 24 for second, etc.). The top 15 runners in each gender receive points in age-group and Clydesdale/Athena categories (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.

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


Ties: Ties in individual categories will be broken by totaling the tied runner's five best age-graded scores. If a tie still 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 score until the tie is broken

Clydesdale / Athena Rules:  All runners registered for this category, for each weight division, receive an age-graded score for each race based on World Masters Association age-grading tables. The runners with the top age-graded scores receive points. In each category 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, 2020. 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.


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 their top 3 runners, over 40 years old, finish times.

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

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


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 Awards Party, presented by the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K, is a night of celebration for the running community! Enjoy camaraderie with fellow running community members as we honor top performers from the CARA Runners Choice Circuit, and recognize CARA Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Award inductees.

CARA Hall of Fame inductees will be honored, along with award winners from the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit. 

Date: TBD 2022 (Traditionally held the Saturday of Super Bowl Weekend)

Location: TBD

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 a 1st place finish in age-group 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.

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 Race 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
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Beth Onines
Committee Member
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Doug Pearson
Committee Member
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Brian Sweney
Committee Member
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Jeff West
Committee Member
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Chris Willis
Committee Member