Summer Marathon (Chicago) Training

Enjoy CARA's "Power of the Group" on your marathon journey! CARA group training will provide you the support, community, and accountability you need to successfully reach the start line ready to race your marathon. 

The CARA program has helped tens of thousands of runners complete 26.2. Our popular 18-week program has long been Chicago's premier group training program, serving newcomers and experienced runners alike.

CARA runners enjoy access to eleven training sites scattered across the city and suburbs. With CARA training you will never have to go it alone. Your pace group leader and fellow participants will give you the Power of the Group that has gotten CARA runners to the finish line more than any other program in Chicagoland running. 

Looking for our virtual program? CARA has long been known for its group training programs but also works to serve runners who are unable to attend group sessions through our "virtual" training program. Learn more about virtual options HERE.


Program Dates:

June 10 to October 13, 2019 (18 Weeks)

Meeting Days / Times / Locations:

  • Group Long Runs:

    • Saturday's @ 6:00 a.m. at Lakeshore East Park (Chicago)

    • Saturday's @ 6:00 a.m. at Montrose Beach (Chicago)

    • Saturday's @ 6:00 a.m. at  Lincoln Park (Chicago)

    • Saturday's @ 6:15 a.m. at Wheaton Mariano's / Prairie Path (Wheaton)

    • Saturday's @ 6:30 a.m. at Montrose Beach (Chicago)

    • Saturday's @ 6:30 a.m. at Busse Woods Forest Preserve (Schaumburg)

    • Saturday's @ 6:45 a.m. at Old School Forest Preserve (Libertyville)

    • Saturday's @ 6:50 a.m. at Yankee Woods (Oak Forest)

    • Saturday's @ 7:00 a.m. at Bunker Hill Forest Preserve (Niles)

    • Saturday's @ 7:00 a.m. at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve (Darien)

    • Sunday's @ 6:30 a.m. at Montrose Beach (Chicago)

  • Speed Training:

    • Wednesday's @ 6:00 a.m. at Lake Shore Park Track (Chicago)

    • Wednesday's @ 6:00 p.m. at Trinity Christian College Track (Palos Heights)

    • Wednesday's @ 6:30 p.m. at Downers Grove South High School (Downers Grove)

    • Wednesday's @ 6:30 p.m. at Ost Field Park Track (Palatine)

    • Wednesday's @ 6:30 p.m. at Montrose Beach Wilson Track (Chicago)

  • Weekday Group Runs:

    • Group Run Calendar HERE

Program Benefits:

  • 18-Week Training Plan: CARA Director of Training and Coach Tim Bradley provides an 18-week training plan with novice, novice-II, intermediate, and advanced options so you can train at the level right for your fitness and lifestyle. You will have confidence knowing 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.

  • Group Training: Group long runs and speed training. Gain security and camaraderie with the support of a training program nearly three-times larger than any other Chicagoland training group. You'll never have to run alone with long run groups that are typically 10-50 runners at each pace depending on pace and location.

  • Pacer Led Runs: Weekend long runs will be led by friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced CARA Group Leaders, providing you pacing, and so much more! We offer groups at each 30-second pace interval, from 7:00 to 12:00 min/mile, plus run/walk paces and a +12 min pace group (note actual pace group offerings may different per training site). 

  • Location: Train where you want and have the flexibility to train at different sites in the city and suburbs throughout the season. You are never locked into a single location.

  • NovaCare Hotline: Gain access to CARA's exclusive 24/7 Injury Hotline with Novacare Physical Therapist ready to support your injury questions.

  • Expertise: A weekly info-packed newsletter from CARA Director of Training Coach Bradley. 

  • Hydration Support: Stations serving Gatorade Endurance and water during your group runs.

  • SWAG: CARA runners receive a training tech shirt - we know you've seen them on the trail!

  • Ready to Run 20-Miler: Entry included ($80 value). It's not just a long run, its the largest and most well-supported 

  • Kick-Off Clinic: Access included to our marathon training kick-off clinic, formerly known as Super Clinic. CARA coaches and leading experts will get you ready for the marathon season with this event focused on the training plan and program you are about to take part in.


Registration Fees:
$219 - Individual Registration
CARA Supporter Members (Save $35)
Program Returners (Save $40, may be combined with member discount for a total of $75)
Free / Discounted - Partner Charity Team Runners

Rate Details:

  • Registration includes the training program and 2019 CARA membership. Current members who already have a 2019 membership save $35.

  • Member discount ($35) is applicable to CARA Supporter Level memberships (Individual, Family or Student package).

  • Program returner discount of $40 is for past participants of the previous two seasons (2017, 2018) who hold an active 2019 CARA Supporter Level membership. A special discount code was e-mailed to all 2017 and 2018 participants. E-mail if you need to request a returners discount code and were a participant in 2017 or 2018 CARA Summer Marathon Training Program.

  • Members of CARA's charity team receive free training through CARA. CARA's charity team leader will provide a special discount code to team members. Learn more HERE.

  • Members of any charity team should contact their charity's team leader to see if their charity has partnered with CARA to receive free or discounted training program fees and if so, to receive instruction to register for free or discounted training rates. As part of our mission, CARA provides over $65,000 in subsidized training for charity team runners each year. A special discount code is needed for charity team discounts.

Credit Card Fees:

  • Credit card registration fee payments are subject to a service fee by our registration provider. To avoid online credit card fees, send the check for the amount owed to CARA, 549 W. Randolph St, Suite 704, Chicago, IL 60661. Provide full name, e-mail and note that check is for summer marathon training program fees. CARA will then contact to complete registration.

Terms / Details:

  • Race Registration: Program registration does not include entry or registration fees for the marathon race.

  • Proration: Fees are not prorated for late entry.

  • Refunds: No refunds will be issued for any reason.

  • Credits / Deferrals: Participants may withdraw from the program prior to picking up training program packet and prior to the first day of training (Monday, week of first group session) for any reasons and receive a credit to any CARA program or event of equal or lesser value. Credit expires at the end of the next calendar year. Complete terms and conditions will be provided upon request.

  • Age Minimum: Runners must be 18 years or older to participate.

Packet Pick-Up:

  • Road Runner Sports (Chicago, Kildeer, Naperville, and Wilmette) - June 1 to June 30 / All Business Hours

  • The Runners' Edge (Libertyville) - June 1 to June 30 / All Business Hours

  • Running for Kicks (Palos Heights) - June 9 / 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and June 22 / 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

  • A mailing option is also available for a service fee.

Group Leaders:

  • Volunteer to be a group leader? You are encouraged to apply. Group leaders must be active CARA members to access the application. Learn more about group leading HERE.

Weather Policy:

  • Please review CARA's weather policy HERE

Official Target Races: