The first race was held on 20 September 1981, with over 4000 competitors, and among the competitors was Justin Chaston, who was later an Olympic athlete. The event was called the Western Mail Marathon from 1981 to 1986, and started and finished at the Civic Centre. The first winner was Bernie Plain. (Interestingly in 1981 there was no minimum age restriction of 18, so a few of the runners were younger - including Mark Murray (12) Michael Nesbitt(12), Justin Chaston, Allyn Carter(12) and Malcolm Rich (16) who finished 184). For the first three editions, the course was a loop to Barry. For the next three editions, it was a double loop. From 1987 to 1989 it was not held. From 1990 to 1992, the race started and finished at the Eastern Leisure Centre in Llanrumney. From 1993 to 2001 it was again not held. From 2003, which was the first year that the Cardiff Half Marathon was held, to 2006, the marathon and half marathon were held together, and the finish was at the Millennium Stadium, and from 2004 was inside the stadium.