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Summer Marathon Training

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June 5 to October 8, 2023

  • Saturday/Sunday - Long Runs

  • Wednesday - Track Workouts


Group training program targeting the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and other fall marathons


Chicago (Downtown, Montrose Beach, Lincoln Park), Darien, Libertyville, Niles, Oak Forest, Schaumburg, Wheaton

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The marathon is challenging, but CARA's "Power of the Group" will provide you the support, community, and accountability you need to successfully reach the finish line.

As Chicago's premier group training program, we have helped tens of thousands of runners successfully complete their goals. Whether you're a newcomer or experienced runner, our program provides training plans that meet you where you're at.

You will never have to go it alone. Your pace group leaders and fellow participants will give you the Power of the Group that has led CARA runners to the finish line more than any other program in Chicagoland running.

Your training program is led by CARA coaches who have national certifications and years of proven coaching success long before we bring them into CARA.​

Program Details

Program Benefits:

  • 18-week training plan with five options (Novice, Novice II, Intermediate, Advanced, and Run/Walk)

  • 6-week pre-season training guide to prepare you for the season

  • Training guide and weekly education newsletters

  • Video guided marathon strength training plan

  • Marathon Kick-Off Clinic and Final Miles education resources

  • Group training long Runs (Saturday & Sunday options) led by group leaders for 7:30 to 11:30 pace/per mile run, and 12:00 to 13:00 pace/per mile run/walk 

    • Full list of paces and locations offered HERE

  • Coach led track workouts (Wednesdays)

  • Hydration support at training runs, including water and Gatorade Endurance

  • Ready to Run 20 Miler entry included (For in-person group training and virtual local options only)

  • Included access to the Marathon VIP Experience on Bank of America Chicago Marathon race day

  • Private toilet access at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon start corrals

  • Rush Physical Therapy Injury Hotline

  • CARA Training Tank and Ready to Run 20 Miler Finishers Shirt

Packet Pickup Information:

Packet Pickup is available in the CARA office on the follow days and times: Tue. - Fri. 10am - 4pm. Email: to arrange a specific time for pickup. Participants may also select and purchase their packet to be mailed via their participant account. 

Important Program Dates: 

September 17: Ready to Run 20 Miler 

October 8th: CARA Marathon VIP and Bank of America Chicago Marathon 

Target Race/s:

  • Bank of America Chicago Marathon

  • Training plan adjustments are available for other fall marathons by request

Group Long Run Locations

CARA training group long runs are offered at locations throughout the city and suburbs. Participants have access to all locations through the season and are not restricted to only their primary registration choice. (Click location maps for google map). 2022 training sites are listed below. 

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Chicago - Downtown

Monroe Harbor

Saturdays 6:00 a.m.

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Chicago - Lincoln Park

Diversey Harbor

Saturdays 6:00 a.m.

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Chicago - Montrose

Montrose Beach

Saturdays 6:00 a.m.

Saturdays 6:30 a.m.

Sundays 6:30 a.m.

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Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Saturdays 7:00 a.m.

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Old School Forest Preserve

Saturdays 6:45 a.m.

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Bunker Hill Forest Preserve

Saturdays 7:00 a.m.

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Oak Forest

Yankee Woods

Saturdays 6:50 a.m.

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Busse Woods Forest Preserve

Saturdays 6:30 a.m.

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IL Prarie Path  / Mariano's

Saturdays 6:15 a.m.

Group Track Workout Locations

CARA training group track workouts are offered at locations throughout the city and suburbs. Participants have access to all locations through the season. 2022 locations are listed below.


Program Fees & Registration

Group Training: $219

  • Save 15% - CARA Supporter Level Members (Individual, Family, Student)

  • Save $35 - Returner Discount (Return participants from 2020, 2021, or 2022)

  • Member and returner discounts may be combined.

  • Free / Discounted - Charity Runners (CARA partner charity team runners receive free or discounted training. Runners must request their team's code from their team leader.)


Returners discount is for participants who have completed the program any of the following years - 2020, 2021, or 2022. Please e-mail for a program returner discount.

Members receive discount by logging in with membership username/password during registration.


Online registration payments are subject to a service fee by our registration provider. To avoid online payment fees, send a check for the amount owed to CARA, 1540 S. Ashland Ave Suite #201, Chicago, IL 60608. Provide full name, e-mail, phone number and note that check is for summer marathon training program fees. CARA will then contact to complete registration.



CARA training programs rely on dedicated volunteer site coordinators, group leaders, and coaches to support program participants, and provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all.


Site coordinators are recruited from experienced program group leaders. Those interested in becoming a site coordinator now, or in the future as openings are available, should contact CARA Sr. Director of Training Tim Bradley (

Group leaders are the backbone of CARA training programs. Group leaders keep runners safe, organized, on-pace, and motivated during training runs. Those interested becoming a group leader can learn more HERE.

Coaches are needed to support CARA track workouts. Experienced coaches may be tabbed with leading a workout, where others can assist with workout organization and timing while learning. Those interested in becoming a coach or assistant coach should contact CARA Sr. Director of Training Tim Bradley (​

Hydration Volunteers are needed to support hydration stations at training locations. Volunteers may volunteer for a single date, or a season. Interested volunteers can check out opportunities on our volunteer page.

COVID-19 Safety

Participation expectations are as follows:

  • Participants are expected to wear a mask or face covering when gathering pre- or post-run until they are two weeks post full vaccination for COVID19. Per CDC guidance, fully vaccinated participants are not required to wear a mask or face covering while gathering pre or post-run.

  • Do not participate if you are feeling sick or ill, and or have a fever, or if you are unvaccinated and 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.

  • Participants are encouraged to avoid traditional forms of physical contact (handshakes, high-fives, hugs, partner stretching, etc.), as well as close group gathering (group pictures, etc.).

  • Do not spit or blow nose while running in the group.

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

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

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