Running Miles for Chicago Charities

This post is part of The Heart of Chicago Series that will be running on South of I-80 for the month of March. Today's guest is my friend Ana Carlasare who is here to talk about the Chicago running scene and her dedication to charity racing.

Running Miles for Chicago Charities by Ana Carlasare

My alarm goes off at five forty-five A.M. I hit snooze and fall back asleep until six. Then, it’s time. My clothes are laid out for my usual Saturday routine during my fourteen-week long training season. Quickly I eat a banana. I arrive in Lincoln Park’s Oz Park just around six-thirty. Runners group together to listen to the coach as he welcomes and instructs us for our “Saturday long run”. With a last sip of water we “start our watches”, and then it is off to Chicago’s lakefront path!

My name is Ana Carlasare and four years ago I finished my degree at DePaul University in Lincoln Park, and moved into Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. During college I was a regular gym-goer, but never involved in the running world. In fact, running was just about the last thing I preferred to do for exercise! Then in 2009 after being inspired by a mentor, close friend, and Boston Marathon runner Kristin Rodeno, I attempted my first 5k race. This would be no small task, and the furthest distance I had ever run in consecutive time.

A year later in 2010 I decided to attempt the Chicago Half Marathon to fulfill a bucket list item. With my family and Kristin out on the course cheering me on, I accomplished my first Half Marathon. After this I was not sure I would ever go back to running. Then, a year later in 2011 after my rescue dog passed away, I wanted to volunteer at a local shelter. I decided to get involved with The Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago, and discovered they had a Chicago Marathon Team! The pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly, and I applied for their team. This was the first post-graduate Chicago organization I reached out and joined. The idea of participating in a full Chicago Marathon was overwhelming to say the least.


Ana crossing the finish line.

Ana crossing the finish line.


The Anti-Cruelty’s team offered personal training with prominent Chicago running Coach Mark Buciak. Coach Mark has over forty years of coaching experience both privately and for Chicago charities. He has fifty-seven career marathons under his belt! He is also a member of the Boston Quarter Century Club (QCC) after completing in thirty-four consecutive Boston Marathons. I was both nervous and thrilled to train with such a legendary Chicago coach and runner. In March 2011 I joined Coach Mark’s team, and began my marathon training and fundraising for The Anti-Cruelty. I slowly became part of Chicago’s running and fundraising community. I was proud to be among such dedicated runners, and started to recognize familiar faces on the lakefront path throughout the season.

October 2011 I completed my first Chicago Marathon at twenty-four years old. I raised over a thousand dollars for The Anti-Cruelty Society, and successfully crossed the finish at mile 26.2! In 2012 I was asked to join The United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s Marathon Team.  This was another great training season with Chicagoans from many interesting backgrounds supporting the United Way’s mission for “Good Education, Financial Stability, and Access to Quality Healthcare Initiative” in low-income neighborhoods of Chicago. I raised twelve hundred for the team and completed my second Chicago Marathon.

In 2013 10,000 charity runners participated in the Chicago Marathon on behalf of more than 140 local, national, and global causes. Runners from all 50 states and 100 countries register in the marathon reaching a total of nearly 45,000 runners at the starting line. This past October 2013 I finished my third consecutive Chicago Marathon training under Coach Mark.

Beginning my eighth year as a Chicago resident, and fourth year in the Chicago running community I took a moment to reflect on what running represents in my life. Running is a platform to get involved in charities, raise money, and make a difference. My drive continues to grow stronger from camaraderie and the empowerment I get for running “for a cause” in the city I love.

Ana's medals

Ana's medals

Chicago is the second largest marathon in the country, and continues to grow rapidly. Last year Chicago Marathon runners raised an event record of $15.3 million to fund charities nationally and globally. To Chicago runners the lakefront path is our comfort zone to train in, spend time with our teammates, and create change around the world. Because of the guidance and inspiration from Kristin, training with Coach Mark, and staying involved in the efforts of various charities I will continue to run for Chicago.

“If you want to clear your head run alone.

 If you want to be stronger, run in a pack.”

Ana Carlasare is a South of I80 native, but made her way to the city after her graduation from DePaul University. In addition to running and raising money for charity, Ana enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends. If you would like to train with Ana or Coach Mark they can be reached at: or

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