The Coast Path is managed by the National Park Authority to ensure that it is reasonably safe to walk. The risk assessment of the Coast Path is therefore conducted from the perspective of walking and does not take the activity of running into consideration.
In many places the surface of the Coast Path is in its natural state and can therefore be rough and uneven. It can also vary greatly depending on the prevailing weather and season and can be slippery when muddy. Each year our records show that Coast Path walkers sustain broken bones or sprained joints. The Coast Path runs in close proximity to unguarded cliff edges and steep coastal slopes. Much of the terrain is relatively challenging and steep and has been described as a mountain walk on the edge of the coast. Running the Coast Path therefore substantially increases the risk of injury. Walkers have adequate warning and time to recognise potential hazards such as sharp bends and sheer cliffs. Runners may approach such hazards too quickly to take evasive action, particularly in poor visibility. Given the extra momentum of a runner, a stumble, slip or error of judgement could result in serious injury or death.
Each year there are approximately 250,000 people walking the Coast Path, mostly during the summer season. If you do decide to hold an event on the Coast Path, your competitors must be briefed so that they are aware of other users and be prepared to give way to them, especially on narrow cliff edge sections of Coast Path. Any such event should avoid bank holidays, peak season (July to mid-September) and preferably also weekends.
Organisers of running events therefore need to carry out their own risk assessments of the hazards of the coast with particular reference to their activity. Competitors need to be acquainted with such risks.
In the event of there being an accident to a member of the public associated with a race or time trial, it is probable that the runner (and organiser) would bear a high proportion of the liability. As organisers could be held legally liable for the costs or damages for any injuries which may occur during the event, it is recommended that this risk is insured via a public liability insurance policy.
The National Park Authority has excellent relationships with the many owners of the land over which the Coast Path runs and recommend that landowners be consulted regarding any large event which crosses their land.
We trust you appreciate therefore why the National Park Authority does not generally encourage running events on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, as this can be detrimental to the safety and enjoyment of the many thousands of visitors and residents who walk the Coast Path each year