More than 50 runners took part in relay challenge
A drive through ‘rush hour’ traffic to Calderdale Royal Hospital took more than twice as long as hospital chiefs reckon it would.
The estimated times were put to the test and found wanting in a race between runners and cars to see who could get to the hospital quickest through busy traffic.
The travel times have been a bone of contention in the controversy surrounding plans to downgrade HRI and switch its A&E and acute services to Calderdale Royal Hospital.
Health chiefs reckon the average road journey for Huddersfield people to Calderdale Royal Hospital would be 21 minutes.
In a test this teatime teams of runners took on three cars to see who would get there fastest.
The cars all won, but the car times were, to say the least, disappointingly long.
Pairs of runners set off from Holmfirth and from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary on their way to Calderdale Royal Hospital.
More than 50 runners took part in the relay race which was supported by the Let’s Save HRI campaign group.
Two runners carried a baton for a mile before they handed it to the next pair as they tried to beat a car over two routes – including the 12-mile route starting in Holmfirth.
Two waves of runners set off from the Sands recreation ground at Holmfirth at 4.15pm and 4.30pm.
A third wave of runners set off from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary at 4.15pm.
The 4.15pm Holmfirth car took 46 minutes and the runners 69 minutes. The 4.30pm car from Holmfirth took almost 49 minutes and the runners 87.
The car from HRI took 23 minutes and the runners 44 minutes for the five-mile journey.
Bear in mind the runners couldn’t go down Calderdale Way and the alternative route through Elland added and extra half-a-mile.
Former marathon runner Sean Doyle, 50, of Brockholes, who helped to organise the event, said the exercise proved the point that the estimated journey times were, as he says, “a farce.”
He said: “The traffic was extremely light, especially on the Calderdale side. But, as we all know, that can change and it’s usually heavier in a morning. But even though the traffic was not too bad the journey times from Holmfirth were double the estimated ones in the hospital plan.”
He added that even blue light ambulances struggle to get through.
“They may weave as best they can but they can’t fly over cars,” he said. “What we have shown tonight is a moral victory. We have proved a point and the Independent Review Panel should bear this in mind.”
Supporters at the event included Holmfirth Harriers, Stadium Runners, Stainland Lions, Acre Street Runners and Park Run participants.
Sean said the Valentine’s theme was about ‘loving your hospital’ and was part of the campaign to prevent the removal of A&E services at HRI.
“I’d like to thank all the runners and volunteers who took part,” he said.
Sean, who hit the headlines in 2013 when he suffered a cardiac arrest ahead of the Huddersfield Park Run, carried the baton in wave one.
Three cars were involved in the relay. They are being driven by Dave Riley, Sue Kitching and Chris Dronsfield.