Summer Marathon (Chicago) Training

Since our program's start in 1989, we have helped tens of thousands of runners complete 26.2. If your goal is to complete the marathon in Chicago on Sunday, October 7, 2018, or any other fall marathon, 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. 

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 4 to October 7, 2018 (18 Weeks)

Meeting Days / Times / Locations:

Start times and locations subject to change.

Group Training Program Benefits: (Program Guide)

  • 18-Week Training Plan: CARA Director of Training Leah Bohr provides an 18-week training plan with novice, intermediate I & II, 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.

  • Online Tools: Access to Final Surge online training tools, including your training schedule and virtual running log.

  • 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: Nearly 250 CARA member pace group leaders who are experienced marathoners committed to guiding you every step of the way. Weekend long runs will be led by friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced CARA Group Leaders - we offer pacers 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 Bohr. And learn from top experts at the CARA Super Clinic and Final Miles Clinic.

  • 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 20-mile training run in the business; complete with a point-to-point course, pacers, aid stations, medical support, gear check, finisher's tech shirt, transportation and a post-race celebration.

  • VIP Status: Access included ($60 value) into CARA's often imitated, but never duplicated, Marathon VIP Experience at the Hilton Chicago. Enjoy pre- and post-race on October 7th at our exclusive indoor space complete with hydration, athletic trainers, private bathrooms, gear check and a post-race celebration. Oh, and don't forget CARA's private bank of toilets at the Marathon start corrals.




Registration Type
Program Registration & 2018 CARA Membership (New or Renewal Memberships) $219
Program Registration (First Time Participant / Active 2018 CARA Membership)
$184 (Save $35!)
Program Registration (Program Alum Discount / Active 2018 CARA Membership)
$144 (Save $75!)
Program Registration (CARA Charity Team Runners) Free*
Program Registration (Charity Team Partner Runners) Free / Discounted**

Payment by Check: To avoid 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.

Registration Terms:

  • Program registration does not include entry or registration fees for the marathon race.
  • Fees are not prorated for late entry.
  • *Members of CARA's charity team receive free training through CARA. 
  • **As part of our mission CARA provides over $65,000 in subsidized training for charity team runners each year. Charity team runners should contact their charity's team leader to receive instruction to register for free or discounted training rates through CARA.
  • MEMBER NOTE: Members please note that the member training rates were increased by $5. Please also note that the membership dues were decreased by $9-15 for 2018. Resulting in a lower total cost to train and be a member of CARA.
  • Age Limit: Runners must be 18 years or older prior to the start of training to participate.
  • Weather Policy: Please review CARA's weather policy HERE.