CARA - Chicago Area Runners Association



CARA is the voice of the-every runner; whether you just run a few miles a week, are training for your first marathon or competing for an age group win.

Since 1978 the Chicago Area Runners Association -- CARA, a non-profit organization has been dedicated to running advocacy in Chicago and suburbs.  Starting as the local running club, CARA has grown into the organization that championed the running movement across Chicagoland. We help runners run better, farther, faster and with more fun by clearing paths to a wealth of training, social, outreach and advocacy programs, while promoting friendships and personal fulfillment. 

CARA is devoted to expanding, motivating, supporting and celebrating the running community of Chicagoland. CARA connects runners to resources that enable them to run—farther, faster, better, for life.

Stretching back nearly four decades, CARA has been firmly rooted in giving voice to runners’ concerns and improving the running experience in Chicagoland. We’re dedicated to bridging the diverse concerns of everyone interested in running – running groups and clubs, and municipal, businesses and community leaders – to make this a great place to run. 

CARA has a tradition of successful engagement and actions on issues important to runners and the community. Our advocacy and social outreach efforts have expanded to include Roads Scholars, a mentorship-based running program that builds confidence and self-esteem, for at-risk Chicago area High School students, through a mentorship-based running program that achieves positive impact in education and life.  Our Charity Running Program in partnership with local non-profit organizations provides run training programs to support fund raising efforts and help runners accomplish their marathon or half marathons goals making their miles more meaningful.  

Striving to be the best and most active source for running information, CARA shares its expertise, enthusiasm and passion for excellence with runners in a helpful and approachable way. We do this by bringing together the interests and enjoyment of an active and diverse running community across Chicagoland. In support of our year round training programs, racing competitions, advocacy and social outreach initiatives, we welcome new members, new sponsors, and new charity partners. 

Who is CARA?

The third largest local community of runners in America.

Advocates for running, filling over 9,500 volunteer roles and serving over 42,000 hours of volunteer service per year.

The largest provider of group training programs in America, with programs serving runners 6 to over 85.

Expanding running and building community by providing ‘Go Runs, 72 free-timed 1 Mile and 5K runs per year in underserved neighborhood parks around Chicago.

The organization that brings together Chicagoland’s running clubs for competition and camaraderie through the 15 race Runners’ Choice Circuit.

The voice of every runner, representing Chicagoland runners to municipalities on projects such as the Lakefront Trail Separation.

Promoting safety and quality event practices by administering the CARA Race Certification program and providing monthly free race director clinics.

Developing future runners through the Chicago Stars! Youth Club.

Supporting those who run for a greater purpose by training runners from over 50 charity fundraising teams.

1 Person | 2 Impacts | 7 Hours