The Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA), is an organization that has served the Chicago area running community since 1978! Starting as the local running club, CARA has grown into the organization that champions the running movement across Chicagoland. CARA advocates for runners, and provides opportunities for runners to train, race, learn, be social, and volunteer.

Stretching back four decades, CARA has been firmly rooted in giving voice to runners’ concerns and improving the running experience in Chicagoland. We are 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 focus on prmoting safe, accessible, and well-organized opportunities in running. CARA works to advocate for safe trails and greenways, provides hydration resources for runners, and serves as a voice for runner concerns and feedback to local municipalities.

Our 'Go Run program, a community partnership with the Chicago Park District, offers free timed community 5K and 1 Mile events in local parks on over 60 occasions per year. 'Go Run's have removed barriers to entry into running, providing a cost-free, unitimidating, community focused running opportunity for beginners and long-time runners alike.

CARA educates and holds accountable local races to produce safe, well-organized, properly measured, and operationally sound events through free race director clinics, the CARA Best Practices Guidelines, and our CARA Race Certification program. Through certification, races can exude their excellence and make a committment runners can count that their event will meet high standards.

Our charity partnership program includes nearly 50 non-profit organizations, and provides run training programs to support fundraising efforts which help runners accomplish their marathon or half marathons goals making their miles more meaningful. CARA subsidizes nearly $65,000 in training program fees for these partners, helping their runners raise over $1-million per year through events like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and other key local and national events.

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. CARA hosts education clinics, social events, and competitive competitions, to promote learning, networking, personal improvement, and cammeradery. Our goal is to support and partner with Chicaglands various running groups, and to provide programs that are complimentary to their clubs programs and goals. Programs such as the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit, annually bring together runnings from all local clubs, and provide club teams the opportunity to use the Circuit as a focal point for club activities.


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 8 to over 85.

Expanding running and building community by providing ‘Go Runs, 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.