The marathon is challenging, but you can enjoy the support of CARA's popular program where you are to help you successfully reach the finish line.
As Chicago's premier 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.
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 four options (Novice, Novice II, Intermediate, and Advanced)
Additional 6-week pre-season training guide to prepare you for the season
Training guide and weekly education newsletters
RushPT Injury Hotline
Access to a private STRAVA group for program participants
Illinois Marathon and other spring marathons
Training plans available for other fall marathons by request
End of Season Run
CARA training will support you as you train for the target race of your choice, but with so many races being uncertain at this time, CARA will provide training program runners with an end of season timed 26.2-mile run opportunity for you to accomplish the program goal no matter what!
Each training site will have their own end of season run with an accurate course, course support, medical support, hydration, and timed results. Each training site will complete their end of season run on a separate date to allow for each to receive full-support.
Lincoln Park / Diversey Harbor (Chicago) - Saturday, May 1
Morton Arboretum (Lisle) - Sunday, May 2
Details may be adjusted as the end of season approaches. CARA reserves the right to combine training groups to a single location for end of season runs if participation levels are at a level where one location would provide the best experience.
Program Fees & Registration
Virtual "Local Option" Training: $105 (Includes End of Season Run)
Save 15% - 2021 CARA Supporter Level Members
Virtual "Out-of-Area Option" Training: $80 (Does not include End of Season Run)
Save 15% - 2021 CARA Supporter Level Members
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 virtual winter marathon training program fees. CARA will then contact to complete registration.
FAQ / Policies
Is there a packet pick-up?
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.
Can I cancel my registration?
Participants may choose to voluntarily exit the program. Participants who exit the program by the date two weeks prior to the start date of the program, may receive a full credit of fees paid towards any single 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.
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?
How old do I need to be to participate?
There is no age minimum for virtual programs.
May I participate in group runs?
No, virtual program participants do not have access to training program group runs.
Are there discounts for charity runners?
Do I receive a shirt or apparel item?
No, the virtual program does not include a shirt or apparel item.
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 for any in-person activities 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.