CARA

Marathon Training Locations

Scroll to find each location's information

CARA - Darien

LOCATION

Darien / Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

PARKING

Parking lot opens at 7am. Street parking is available near trailhead entrance for those that arrive early.

TRAIL

Trail is a 9.5 mile crushed limestone trail, which crosses only three streets over the entire loop. There are hills throughout the loop as well.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Group led stretching as pre-run warm-up. Brief announcements at 7:00am. Run starts immediately afterward.

MILEAGE/PACERS

All pace groups lead through the novice mileage. If people are running intermediate or advanced mileage they typically meet before the run depending on the pace. Run/Walk groups have traditionally been supported at the Darien site at 12 min R/W pace.

HYDRATION

The forest preserve does not allow cups along the trail. Runners must use hand-held water bottles to fill up along the way. Coolers are along the route with Gatorade Endurance and water.

CONTACT

Jim Murphy darien@cararuns.org


CARA - Chicago/Lakeshore East

LOCATION

Chicago / Lakeshore East Park

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

East of Michigan Ave. on Randolph, stay to the right and go on the upper part of Randolph. Turn left into Field Boulevard.

PARKING

Parking is available Mariano’s Village Market (333 East Benton Pl – entrances on both Field and Benton) garage at a discounted rate. Site coordinator has vouchers.

TRAIL

The Lakefront Trail is accessible to the Lakeshore East Park via the North Harbor Service Drive. Please remember to stay to the right at all times and never run more than two abreast on the Lakefront Trail.

PRE-RUN

Meet at 6am sharp for brief announcements and information about the run. Groups are dismissed in pace groups immediately following.

MILEAGE/PACERS

All pace groups lead through the novice mileage. Those running intermediate or advanced mileage continue their run after dropping off the novice runners. This may vary by pace. R/W is supported at Lakeshore East. Please email downtown@cararuns.org to confirm paces.

HYDRATION

Hydration is provided along the Chicago Lakefront trail every approximately 2-4 miles as well as the start/end of the training run. Groups also use the Chicago Park District water fountains throughout the run and stop every 1 to 2 miles depending on weather conditions.

CONTACT

Site coordinator: Betsy Balgooyen Keller bbalgooyen@Hotmail.com


CARA - Chicago/Lincoln Park

LOCATION

Amita Health St. Joseph Hosptial, Chicago / Lincoln Park (Meet at 2913 N. Commonwealth on Medical Office patio)

PARKING

Discounted parking is available in the hospital parking deck (get validation from the security desk at Emergency Door 2 entrance). Parking is also available along Cannon Dr, and in the Diversey Driving Range parking lot.

TRAIL

The Lakefront Trail and the parallel soft surface path is accessible directly across from the hospital. Please remember to stay to the right at all times and never run more than two abreast on the Lakefront Trail.

PRE-RUN

Groups starts at 6am sharp with brief announcements and training information. Groups leave in pace groups immediately following.

MILEAGE/PACERS

All pace groups lead through the novice mileage. If people are running intermediate or advanced mileage they continue their run after dropping off the novice runners. This may vary by pace. Reach out to training@carauns.org to ask specific questions or do not hesitate to post on the site’s FB page (listed below). 11:30 R/W is the only guaranteed R/W pace at Lincoln Park site. You can find 12 min. R/W at Montrose Saturday 6:30am.

HYDRATION

Hydration is provided along the Chicago Lakefront trail as well as the start/end of the training run.

CONTACT

Brian Cloutier   brian.cloutier32@gmail.com 


CARA - Chicago/Montrose (Saturday)

LOCATION

Chicago / Montrose Beach (At Comfort Station on east side of Simonds Dr. between Wilson Ave. and Montrose Ave.)

PARKING

Street parking at Montrose is free and open unless there is an event in the area closing streets. The paid lot at Wilson is also an option. There is a DIVVY Station one block south of our meeting location. Bike racks are available at our starting point. The Wilson Red Line station is just under a mile from our site.

TRAIL

The trail along the Chicago lakefront is mostly a paved biking trail. Now that the Chicago Park District has been splitting the path between bikers and pedestrians, a crushed limestone shoulder is implemented along most of the trail parts. Chicago’s lakefront trail is one of the most used trails in the country. Please listen to your group leaders as they look out for your safety and promote a “Share the Path” philosophy.

PRE-RUN

The run starts at 6:00am sharp with brief announcements and training information. Groups then begin their runs based on pace. It is the same for the 6:30am group. Brief announcements followed by groups leaving according to pace.

MILEAGE/PACERS

All pace groups lead through the novice mileage. If people are running intermediate or advanced mileage they add on either before or after the run. This may vary by pace group. Reach out to training@carauns.org to ask specific questions or do not hesitate to post on the site’s FB page (listed below). 11:30 and 12:00 R/W groups are supported at 6:30am start only. 7:30 pace is supported at the 6am start only.

HYDRATION

Hydration is provided along the Chicago Lakefront trail as well as the start/end of the training run.

CONTACT

training@cararuns.org


CARA - Chicago/Montrose (Sunday)

LOCATION

Chicago / Montrose Beach (At Comfort Station on east side of Simonds Dr. between Wilson Ave. and Montrose Ave.)

PARKING

Street parking at Montrose is free and open to all. Unless there is a race in the area, parking is usually available for our group. The paid lot at Wilson is also an option. There is one DIVVY Station one block south of our meeting location, and another one block west, on Wilson (at the track). Bike racks are available at our starting point. The Wilson Red Line station is just under a mile from our site.

TRAIL

The trail along the Chicago lakefront is mostly a paved biking trail. Now that the Chicago Park District has been splitting the path between bikers and pedestrians, a crushed limestone shoulder is implemented along most of the trail parts. Chicago’s lakefront trail is one of the most used trails in the country. Please listen to your group leaders as they look out for your safety and promote a “Share the Path” philosophy.

PRE-RUN

We start at 6:25 am sharp with group-led dynamic stretching, brief announcements, and training information. Groups then begin their runs based on pace. There is not a secure place to keep gear.

MILEAGE/PACERS

All pace groups lead through the novice mileage. If people are running intermediate or advanced mileage they continue their run after dropping off the novice runners. This may vary by pace. Reach out to training

R/W groups are not available at the Sunday Montrose group. The Sunday Montrose site offers pacer led groups at the following paces: 7:30-8:00, 8:30, 9:00, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30-12:00.

HYDRATION

Hydration is provided along the Chicago Lakefront trail as well as the start/end of the training run.

CONTACT

Darren DeMatoff at montrosesunday@cararuns.org. No email or messages will be received after 5:30am Sunday mornings until late afternoon.


CARA - Libertyville

LOCATION

Libertyville / Old School Forest Preserve

PARKING

The meeting spot is at Old School Forest Preserve, Shelter C. Parking is free.

TRAIL

Trail is a crushed limestone path along the Des Plaines River Trail. The routes do alternate and the site coordinator gives specific directions each week in addition to posting routes on the Facebook page.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Brief announcements at 6:45am. Run starts immediately afterward.

MILEAGE/PACERS

Experienced pace group leads for all paces, including a run/walk group. Pace leads will follow the novice mileage. Runners interested in following the intermediate and advanced mileage may add on miles at the end. This may vary by pace.

HYDRATION

Hydration is provided along the route. Runners are required to carry some time of hydration bottle as cups are not available on the course. The site coordinator informs the runners each week where hydration is located on the route.

CONTACT

Chris Muender- libertyville@cararuns.org


CARA - Niles

LOCATION

Niles / Bunker Hill Forest Preserve

PARKING

Parking lot is usually open between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. (note: the forest preserve signage says they open at sunrise) The Forest Preserve staff is occasionally delayed in opening parking lot.

TRAIL

Trail is a 16.0+ mile asphalt paved trail, which crosses several streets. The trail is predominantly flat with a few slight hills (i.e. overpasses) along the course.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Group led stretching as pre-run warm-up. Brief announcements at 7:00am. Run starts immediately afterward.

MILEAGE/PACERS

All pace groups lead through the novice mileage. If people are running intermediate or advanced mileage, we recommend that they continue after the group run. Run/Walk groups have traditionally been supported at the Niles site at 11:30 and 12 min R/W pace.

HYDRATION

There will be coolers with cups every 1.5 to 2.0 miles on each long run. Every hydration stop will have water; some locations will also have Gatorade Endurance. Coolers along the route are CARA only, but the public does make use of them.

CONTACT

Keith Kijek:  niles@cararuns.org


CARA - Oak Forest

LOCATION

Oak Forest / Yankee Woods Picnic Area

PARKING

Ranger occasionally is delayed in opening parking lot. Street parking is NOT allowed. You must park in marked spaces in the lot, tickets do get issued. You can also park at the Golf course just north of the forest preserve lot.

TRAIL

Trail is a paved bike trail, which crosses several small streets and a few larger ones. The course is an out and back course with our 1/2 mile markers marked up to mile 9. There is a porta-potty at the start and at mile 3.5 and 8.5. This is a very busy trail. Please keep no more than two abreast and listen for bikes passing on your left.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Brief announcements at 6:20am. Run starts immediately afterward.

MILEAGE/PACERS

Most pace groups lead through the novice and Intermediate mileage. The 8:30 group will normally follow the advanced mileage, depending on group vote. Please reach out to training@cararuns.org with any further questions regarding pacing and/or mileage.

HYDRATION

Coolers along route are CARA only, but hydration at the trailhead is open to the public. Please try to re-use your cup on return visit to each water stop and please use the trash can when you finish at each stop. If you prefer, some people carry their cup to each stop, or use a handheld bottle.

CONTACT

Joe Werner Gokarts@Juno.com 


CARA - Schaumburg

LOCATION

Busse Woods Forest Preserve

PARKING

From Hwy 53, travel east on Higgins Rd. Make the first right into the Forest Preserve. Then turn left. Parking near the restroom building.

TRAIL

Trail is a paved path through Busse Woods. There are loops as well as out and back options.

ANNOUNCEMENTS/START TIME

Brief announcements at 6:30am. Run starts immediately afterward.

MILEAGE/PACERS

All pace groups lead through the novice mileage. If people are running intermediate or advanced mileage they add on before or after the run. This does depend on the pace. Reach out to training@carauns.org to ask specific questions or do not hesitate to post on FB page of the location’s group. Run/Walk groups are new and growing group at the Schaumburg site at 11:30 and 12 min R/W pace.

HYDRATION

Hydration is provided along the route by the site coordinators and group leaders. Some runners still choose to carry handheld bottles for their own needs along the route. The site coordinator informs the runners each week what markers they will find the coolers.

CONTACT

schaumburg@cararuns.org


CARA - Wheaton

LOCATION

Wheaton / Mariano's-Illinois Prarie Path

PARKING

The meeting spot is at the entrance to the Mariano’s @ 625 S. Main Street in Wheaton. However, the store would prefer our participants to use a lot just North at the Wheaton Park District Central Athletic Complex or at the Mariano’s employee parking lot on the West side of Main Street. We ask that participants please respect this policy and do not park in the Mariano’s lot. After the run, if you want coffee or need to shop, feel free to move to the Mariano’s parking lot. Mariano’s opens at 6:00 AM and there are plenty of bathrooms in the store. There is also a key basket at the Service Desk.

TRAIL

Trail is a crushed limestone path with markers every mile along the Illinois Prairie Path. The meeting spot is at Mariano’s and runners run east, south and north along the trail on alternating weeks.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Group led stretching as post-run cool-down. Brief announcements at 6:15am. Run starts immediately afterwards.

MILEAGE/PACERS

All pace groups lead through the novice mileage. If people are running intermediate or advanced mileage they add on before or after the run. This does depend on the pace. Reach out to training@carauns.org to ask specific questions or do not hesitate to post on FB page of the location’s group. 

Run/Walk groups have traditionally been supported at the Wheaton site at 11:30 and 12 min R/W pace.

HYDRATION

Hydration is provided along the route every 2.5 to 3.5 miles. Some runners still choose to carry handheld bottles for their own needs along the route. The site coordinator informs the runners each week what markers they will find the coolers.

CONTACT

Jim Laubsted: wheaton@cararuns.org