You can do it…and we’ll help.

Becoming a Mercy Home Hero is an unforgettable experience. Besides changing the life of a child, you’ll also receive a memorable race experience. Whether it’s your first marathon or you are a seasoned veteran, our training partners and their free training programs will make sure you reach the finish line!

Heroes: please email Jim Harding ( with your training partner preference.

CARA, the oldest and most respected program in the region has been training marathon runners since 1989. It provides nine weekend training sites in the city and suburbs, plus midweek runs and speed workouts, access to a 24-hour injury hotline, complimentary entry to the CARA Ready to Run 20-miler in September, a CARA tech shirt, & in-person and virtual training options.

CES’ dedicated coaches have guided athletes of ALL levels across the finish line for more than 16 years. Their 19-week program (group and virtual options) will prepare you, no matter your experience level. Seeking a PR? They’ll challenge you with effective, smart training! You’ll also get a Nike singlet, a final 20-miler on a loop course and four training locations (at Fleet Feet stores).

Runners of all abilities can join The Road To Boston, a highly personalized 25-week program led by one of the most experienced coaches in Illinois (60 career marathons). You’ll be treated as a person not just a number and have full access to Coach Mark Buicak.  The program includes a summer running retreat weekend in Wisconsin for runners, friends & family plus optional Saturday runs in the winter.