COVID-19 Updates & Safety

Last Updated 4/29/2021

The Chicago Area Runners Association, CARA, is a non-profit organization committed to serving and advocating for the local running community. With over 10,000 members, CARA is the nation’s third-largest local running organization, and for over 40 years, we have served as the voice of local runners.


CARA urges everyone to practice physical distancing and to commit to COVID-19 related running safety guidelines.

CARA Program Overview:

CARA has extensive operational preparedness plans for its programs and events to meet all safety and gathering guidelines provided by state and local authorities.


Our group running plans have been widely accepted and were adopted by the Road Runners Clubs of America as the initial framework for a return to group running for clubs nationally during COVID-19.


Our event plans have been reviewed and accepted by IDPH and the Chicago Park District.


Please visit each program or event page for details on procedures.

Below are general guidelines for runners.

Best Practices:

  • Run and exercise outside. In relation to COVID transmission, outdoor spaces are 20 times safer than indoor spaces.

  • Maintain physical distance. Keeping six feet of space or more from others provides greater safety.

  • Avoid close prolonged contact. Avoid spending 15 minutes or more within six feet of any one person.

  • Always carry a mask. Be prepared for changing or unexpected circumstances.

  • Wash hands. Wash hands or use hand sanitizer after contacting common areas, and/or before touching your face or mouth.

When Masks Are Not Necessary:

  • When running outside alone, even if you may pass by other persons.

  • When running outside in groups while physical distancing can be maintained. This includes while on course at a race that has procedures designed to allow for physical distancing while on course.

  • When vaccinated, and gathering outside pre/post-run in small groups of vaccinated or unvaccinated persons. Physical distancing should be maintained.

When Masks Are Recommended:

  • When indoors at the gym or at a workout class, even while running/exercising.

  • When unvaccinated, and gathering outside pre/post-run in small groups of vaccinated or unvaccinated persons. Even when physical distancing is maintained.

  • When vaccinated or unvaccinated, and gathering in a crowded venue such as a race or event site pre or post-run.

  • Regardless of vaccination status, when event or group gathering organizers have a mask requirement.

Group Gathering: (Check with your local authority for their group gathering requirements)

  • Group/Event capacity outdoors should not exceed 15 persons per 1,000 square feet of venue space, and physical distancing should always be maintained at the venue through proper group management procedures. For runs/races, calculate "venue space" as the main gathering area, not the entire scope of the run route, or; Limit outdoor group/event sizes to 50 persons. Multiple groups of 50 are permissible within the same venue so long as procedures are in place 1.) to maintain separation between groups (of at least 30 feet), 2.) to limit interaction between groups, and 3.) to ensure the venue size allows for physical distancing within each group.

  • Avoid gathering indoors. However, if gathering indoors, limit capacity to 50 percent of the capacity of the venue, not to exceed 50 people. However, large indoor venues (1,000 person capacity or greater) may have 25 percent capacity, not to exceed 250 persons.

General Guidelines and Expectations for Participation:

  • Do not participate if you are feeling sick or ill, and or have a fever, or if you have been in contact with someone unrecovered from COVID-19.

  • Persons from high-risk groups for COVID-19 complications should consult their physician before participating.

  • Do not engage in traditional forms of physical contact (handshakes, high-fives, hugs, partner stretching, etc.).

  • Do not engage in close group pictures/selfies.

  • Do not spit or blow nose while running in the group. Must be away from others, and at least six feet away from others.

  • Do not share personal items, such as hydration, energy gels, towels, etc.

  • Participants should self carry personal hydration (bottles/packs), and to use hydration stations for refill only.

  • Participants must abide by local travel quarantine orders should they travel out-of-state during the program.

  • Participants may be required to exit the programs/events temporarily or permanently should their actions not meet expectations and or they are creating risk for themselves or others.


IDPH Sport Guidance

City of Chicago Business Reopening Portal

City of Chicago Parks and Outdoor Recreation Guidelines

State of IL Outdoor Recreation Guidelines

CDC Choosing Safer Activities

CDC Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated People