Marathon has been popular in Riga since the beginning of mid 80s. The first races were based on the idea of Latvia independence and therefore they were called the Folk Song Marathons. The course was in laps and therefore it was possible to cover as long distance as each participant was capable, at the finish line receiving a part of Latvian national symbol – fragment of waistband from national costume – giving the feeling that participants run for independence of Latvia. There were 10 000 participants in the first Folk Song Marathon.
The first Riga marathon organized by the Riga City Council took place 23 years ago – in 1991 – even before Latvia was independent country again. There were several hundred participants each year but just in recent years the race has achieved popularity in the international marathon community, attracting participants from countries far and wide. Last race in 2012 assembled the record number of participants – there were 18 180 participants from 59 countries.
Each year the course has been changed therefore there is no official course record to compare over the years. The best times achieved during marathons in Riga are 2.15:48 (J.Kuto (KE) in 2011, men discipline) and 2.37:14 (D.Girma (ET), in 2011, women discipline).
In 2007 Nordea Riga marathon became AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) member and the marathon course was measured according to international standards.
Since 2012 Nordea Riga Marathon has been awarded the prestigious International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Bronze Label. Nordea Riga marathon at the moment is the first race in Northern Europe to receive this award.