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Get To Know CARA’s Site Coordinators

Summer marathon training is a team effort. CARA is lucky to have some amazing Site Coordinators who lead our training sites.

If you are training with us now, or have trained with us in the past we know you can attest to these incredible people who kick-off each long run, and so much more.

2019 Summer Marathon Training Site Coordinators:

  • Jacob Gaddie - Montrose Saturday 6:00 a.m.

  • David Rovani - Montrose Saturday 6:30 a.m.

  • Darren DeMattoff - Montrose Sunday

  • Betsy Balgooyen-Keller - Lakeshore East Park

  • Brian Cloutier - Lincoln Park

  • Sean Murphy - Lincoln Park

  • Beth Levy - Niles

  • Keith Kijek - Niles

  • Joe Werner - Oak Forest

  • Christine Muender - Libertyville

  • Jim Laubsted - Wheaton

  • Jim Murphy - Darien

  • Michelle Gallagher - Schaumburg

  • Kathy Barlow - Schaumburg

We want you to get to know them a little better, so we asked them a few questions about marathon training, why they became a Site Coordinator, and what advice they would offer first-time marathoners.


Why did you decide to be a Site Coordinator?


After training with CARA for many years, I became a group leader and loved being able to share my experiences and contribute to other runners. A few years later, our Site Coordinator announced that he would be retiring. I jumped at the opportunity.

CARA and our marathon training program, have given me so much. Yet, I saw ways that we were falling short in meeting the needs of runners of all abilities. I took on the position to both share my love of running and to help make our programs more relevant and inclusive to runners at all levels.” - Darren DeMatoff.

“I had been a group pace leader for 3 years. I decided to become a site leader when approached by (former Director of Training) Leah (Bohr) at the beginning of last year for wanted to expand/create a new Lincoln Park site. I thought it would be a great way to give back to the running community and CARA for all the value it has given to me over the years. I really enjoyed being a group leader and helping others reach their marathon goals and now being in charge of a site allows me to stay better connected with everyone at the site, not just those in my pace group.” - Brian Cloutier.

“There are two reasons that keep me coming back year after year as both a group leader and as a site coordinator. I love watching new and inexperienced marathoners progress through the season - helping them learn about the strengths of the training program, giving them advice on how to overcome problems, and getting to see them again the next year as enthusiastic as ever to do it all over again. It also helps to keep me accountable to my own training and goals. It would be much easier to roll over when that 4:30 a.m. alarm goes off each Saturday morning if I didn't know there were a few hundred people looking for me to kick off their run that day. I could easily skip a mid-week run or two, but then I wouldn't be as strong as I could be to pace my group for our long runs.” - David Rovani.

What is your favorite part about marathon training?


My favorite part of marathon training is seeing everyone running together. Many come out with the goal to finish a marathon, but only to finish and be done. Some are motivated by the group and decide to continue running with us. I always say ‘No one runs just two marathons.’ If a runner stays with us for a second marathon, they will be with the group for many” - Jim Laubsted.

Training is so much harder than the marathon, you have to continuously say no to people and events. When the summer comes to an end and you look back at the people who’ve helped you, and talked you into a few extra miles. They become the best part of the training.” - Jacob Gaddie.

What's your best piece of advice for a first-time marathoner?

Trust your training and preparation. After 18 weeks one learns so much through the 17 practice runs - what works, what chaffes, what you want on a run. Don’t second guess - go with what you practiced.” - Betsy Balgooyen-Keller.

“The biggest mistake in training is doing long runs too fast. The biggest mistake at the race is going out too fast. Avoid both of those bad habits at all costs. The last thing I would add is the importance of consistency -- just follow the program.” - Jim Murphy.

“Trust the process. Training is months long for a reason. Having a lousy run or a run where you have to shut it down sooner than you'd like is something that everyone experiences in training. As long as you stay honest to your plan, the work that you put in week after week will pay off in the end. Also-- enjoy it! You'll always remember your first marathon, so have some fun with it!” - Sean Murphy.



This team is here to support you. They love marathon training and know how much it helps to have a supportive group of people to meet week after week. If you have questions, ask them. If you are struggling during a run, do not be afraid to verbalize it. These incredible Site Coordinators will help you all summer long.

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