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Women's History Month Feature - CARA Site Coordinators

In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to highlight some of the incredible women who are leaders in our CARA and Chicagoland running communities. We will be sharing the insight and advice of some of our board members, local running club leaders, top distance competitors, and site coordinators. Here, a few of our female site coordinators weigh in on their experience and what they've learned from leading our CARA groups.


Betsy Balgooyen-Keller - Site Coordinator, Lakeshore East

What is your favorite part about working in this role?

I have run with CARA since 2000, been a group leader for 18 years, been a site coordinator 14 years, and was a former board member and board secretary. My favorite part about working as a site coordinator is meeting so many people from around Chicago and occasionally from around the world. While everyone is working toward the same goal, we each bring unique knowledge and experiences which makes for great long run conversations. I have learned so much on a wide variety of topics during long runs.

How has your experience as a runner helped prepare you to take on a leadership role?

Confidence. Every run and race gives you the knowledge I can do this.

What advice would you give to girls or women who want to get more involved in their communities or athletics?

You never know who you are going to meet or the experience you are going to gain. It might just change your life!

Tera O'Malley - Site Coordinator, Lisle/Morton Arboretum


What is your favorite part about working in this role?

As a group leader and most recently a site coordinator I love the comradery of being a part of a community of runners that share, encourage, collaborate and support other runners, no matter how seasoned the runner is. In my role, I encourage runners no matter their ability to challenge themselves in a running community that is supportive as I know how scary it can be starting out in a sport that can have uncertainty. Everyone has a story on why they run and I want to be there to support, encourage and prepare them for the start line; ultimately the finish line!


How has your experience as a runner helped prepare you to take on a leadership role?

I believe longevity as a member within the organization has been a stepping stone for me to understand the role which led me to advance in a leadership position as a group leader/site coordinator. Having similar interests and goals with many participants helped me see the value that I could provide to other participants.

What advice would you give to girls or women who want to get more involved in their communities or athletics?

I think it’s never too late to try something new, even it's a little scary, challenging or even out of your comfort zone. You just never know what you can achieve if you don’t give it a try. I’m glad I did as I have grown to love the sport of running and along the way, I’ve made some incredible friends and support system [ they know who they are :) ].

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The Chicago Area Runners Association, CARA, is a non-profit organization committed to serving and advocating for the local running community. We are Chicagoland’s running club, providing accessible opportunities for all runners to train, race, learn, be social and volunteer. 

CARA, with over 10,000 members, is the nation’s third-largest running club, serving as the voice of local runners, as well as providing over 1,300 dates of programming and events per year.

 

Proud member of the Road Runners Club of America.

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