Registration opens March 1, 2021 at 10am
June 7 to October 10, 2021
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
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.
18-week training plan with five options (Novice, Novice II, Intermediate, Advanced, and Run/Walk)
Additional 6-week pre-season training guide to prepare you for the season
Training guide and weekly education newsletters
Video guided marathon tailored strength training plan
Marathon Kick-Off Clinic and Final Miles Clinic
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 (paces may vary by location)
Coach led track workouts (Wednesday's)
Hydration support at training runs, including water and Gatorade Endurance
Ready to Run 20 Miler entry included
Included access to the Michelob Ultra Marathon VIP Experience on Bank of America Chicago Marathon race day
Private toilet access at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon start corrals
RushPT Injury Hotline
CARA Training Tech Tank and Ready to Run 20 Miler Finishers Shirt
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)
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.
Wednesdays @ 6:00 a.m. at Lake Shore Park Track (Chicago)
Wednesdays @ 6:00 p.m. at Trinity Christian College Track (Palos Heights)
Wednesdays @ 6:00 p.m. at Gene Leonard Park (Oak Forest)
Wednesdays @ 6:30 p.m. at Downers Grove South High School (Downers Grove)
Wednesdays @ 6:30 p.m. at Ost Field Park Track (Palatine)
Wednesdays @ 6:30 p.m. at Montrose Beach Wilson Track (Chicago)
Program Fees & Registration
Group Training: $219
Save $35 - 2021 CARA Supporter Level Members (Individual, Family, Student)
Save $35 - Returner Discount (Return participants from 2018, 2019, or 2020)
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.)
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, 1100 W. Cermak Rd. #231, 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.
FAQ / Policies
When and where is packet pick-up?
Can my packet be mailed?
Yes, you may select packet mailing for a fee during registration. To add packet mailing later, login to your participant account and add option.
What training level is needed to participate?
CARA has a proven record of serving beginning runners, and long-time runners alike. Before starting our Novice Plan, we recommend that you can complete 3-4 runs per week, including at least one run of 6 miles at a pace of at least 13 minutes per mile.
What is the program's weather policy?
We will run/walk rain or shine. However, if there is lightning or other hazardous weather we will cancel or postpone. Our full weather policy and weather alerts are HERE.
Can I cancel my registration?
Participants may choose to voluntarily exit the program by the date two weeks prior to the start date of the program (May 23, 2021). Those who exit may receive a full credit of fees paid towards any single future CARA program or event of any kind of equal or lesser value. Credit valid through the end of the following calendar year. To exit the program, e-mail email@example.com.
The program will continue regardless of changes to target race. Should their be changes to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon that affect mass participation, the program will continue, and CARA make adjustments to support program participants end of season goals.
Can I enter the program after the start date?
Yes, participants are welcomed to enter the program late. The deadline for registration is 4 weeks prior to the program's end date.
Is there a CARA member discount?
Learn more about CARA Supporter Level member benefits and join/renew HERE.
How old do I need to be to participate?
Runners must be 18 years or older to participate in group training.
May I run with a pet at training runs?
No, participants may not run with pets at training runs.
May I run with a stroller at training runs?
No, participants may not run with strollers at training runs?
Are there discounts for charity runners?
Is there an past-participant discount?
Yes. A $35 program returner discount is for past participants of the previous three seasons (2018, 2019, and 2020). E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request your returners discount code beginning March 1.
Can I participate at multiple locations and with multiple pace groups?
Yes, during registration participants are asked to select a training location and training pace group. However, participants may participate at and or visit any site and with any pace group. No notification to CARA is needed to change locations or pace groups.
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 Director of Training Tim Bradley (email@example.com).
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 Director of Training Tim Bradley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Hydration volunteers are needed to support hydration stations at training locations. Volunteers may volunteer for a single date, or a season. Interested volunteers should e-mail email@example.com.
CARA has extensive operational preparedness plans to meet all safety and gathering guidelines provided by state and local authorities. Our plans have been widely accepted and were adopted by the Road Runners Clubs of America as a national framework for a return to group running during COVID-19.
Participation expectations are as follows:
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 must wear a mask or face covering while gathering pre- or post-run, and anytime they are within six feet of others. Runners may remove their face cover while running when they can maintain social distance.
Participants are expected to 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 group temporarily or permanently should their actions not meet expectations and or they are creating risk for themselves or others.