Get To Know Your Running Clubs - CARA

In this edition of Get to Know Your Running Clubs we chatted with Alona Banai about the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) run groups.

Want to learn more about them? Read on!

Hi Alona! Who are you? Give us your best one line bio

Hi! I'm the Director of Partnerships at the Chicago Area Runners Association

Tell us a bit about CARA's history

Since 1978 the Chicago Area Runners Association 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're a non-profit organization that helps runners run better, farther, faster and with more fun by clearing paths to a wealth of training, social, outreach and advocacy programs.

Our run groups and training programs operate in a number of areas including Montrose Beach, Waveland, Lakeshore East, Darien, Libertyville, Oak Forest, Niles, Schaumburg, and Wheaton.

Nice! what sort of runners typically run with your groups? 

Our programs, events and training are catered to runners of all levels, from total beginners to advanced racers.

Where/when do the groups usually meet and run?

Most groups run on the following schedule;

Year round: Saturday mornings
Seasonally: Tuesday evenings, Wednesday nights, Wednesday mornings, Thursday evenings

The best way to get information about group runs and training programs is to head over to visit

Any cost to be a member/join?

There is a $50 basic membership fee to become a CARA member. Members have access to all of our training programs, most programs are in the $49 - $200 range.

Is CARA affiliated with any local races?

Yes! We are involved with a number of local events including the Wintrust Lakefront 10 Miler & 5K, the Ready to Run 20 Miler, the Six Series, and 'Go Run.

CARA has also developed the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit which helps promote participation in local races. The circuit includes many of Chicagoland's most well organized and well-appreciated races. Circuit races are found in both the city and suburbs and include both major world-class events and local club races alike. Circuit races are annually assembled with the input of CARA's membership, the CARA Racing Committee, the CARA staff and CARA Board of Directors.

You can find a full list of the circuit races at

Where are your favourite spots to run in/around Chicago?

There are so many great spots I can't possibly list them all! Here are a few to get you started:

Chicago Lakefront Path
606 Trail
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
Bunker Hill Forest Preserve
Prairie Path
Palos Trail System
Busse Woods
Old School Forest Preserve
Humboldt Park
Washington Park
Warren Park

Anything else that we should know?

Last year, in partnership with the Chicago Park District, CARA launched a brand new program called 'Go Run. Free timed 1 Mile and 5K runs in local parks.

The runs are open to everyone who is interested in coming out to their neighborhood park to race, run, jog, walk and volunteer. Long-time runners, newcomers, families and children are invited to take part. Runners with strollers and dogs on leash are also welcome. The goal of 'Go Run is to become a core part of neighborhood culture, encouraging organic community engagement at, and long after, each run. 

You can get information about where 'Go Runs are happening and how to get involved at

Want to learn more?

Want to connect with CARA, or just learn a bit more about them? Check out their information below:

CARA Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube


Find more runs around Chicago

Looking for runs in and around Chicago? The RunGuides Chciago race calendar can help you find upcoming runs and running races in the area -

Published on Apr 01, 2017
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