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Google has already determined that I am no longer family friendly (I think I may have accidentally dropped the f-bomb in a rant about the word “skinny” or something) so we’re going to step away from the norm and I’m going to go ahead and just lay this one on you: the Hash House Harriers.
But first, let’s talk about drinking and running.
They sometimes go hand in hand. You often hear of group runs ending with a cold pint at a pub, and almost every big race offers you a 12 oz plastic cup of their sponsor’s beer at the finish line. Research even says that beer might make the perfect recovery drink. Now, I’m all about healthy living, but we all know that “health” encompasses mental well being as well, and lets admit it: sometimes we adults like to enjoy a good beer (or three). So, in my ever persistent quest to prove to the world that running can indeed be fun, I bring you yet another somewhat underground running and beer phenomenon:
Yes, it is a real thing (even CNN will tell you so).
And NO, it’s not what you think it is.
In addition to being a fitness professional, mom, ultrarunner, etc…I am also a named Hasher.
And I’ve had A LOT of people ask (particularly after seeing sporadic Facebook pictures) what the heck we are up to on these “trail runs” where we aren’t racing…or training…yet seem to be having a lot of fun (and probably wearing hilarious outfits). It’s hard to describe in just a few words the ridiculousness that is hashing, so I thought the topic deemed an entire post.
What Is Hashing?
Known as ” a drinking club with a running problem”, hashing is a world wide phenomenon with a rich history, that you may have heard of without even knowing it. Because it’s early, the kids are crazy, and I can’t form nearly enough coherent sentences, I’m going to refer to good old Wikipedia for a minute. Ahem:
“Hashing originated in December 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, then in the Federated Malay States (now Malaysia), when a group of British colonial officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British paper chase or “hare and hounds”, to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend.  The original members included, Albert Stephen (A.S.) Ignatius “G” Gispert, Cecil Lee, Frederick “Horse” Thomson, Ronald “Torch” Bennett and John Woodrow. A. S. Gispert suggested the name “Hash House Harriers” after the Selangor Club Annex, where several of the original hashers happened to live, known as the “Hash House” where they also dined.
After the end of World War II in an attempt to organize the city of Kuala Lumpur, they were informed by the Registrar of Societies that as a “group,” they would require a constitution. Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and finding the trail, harriers reaching the end of the trail would partake of beer, ginger beer and cigarettes.
The objectives of the Hash House Harriers as recorded on the club registration card dated 1950:
- To promote physical fitness among our members
- To get rid of weekend hangovers
- To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
- To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel”
See? Real thing, no illegal THC involved (it’s OK, that’s what most people assume when they first hear of hashing).
How Does it Work?
So it goes a little something like this: “Hares” leave a trail through the woods, streets, etc. typically using flour or chalk and predetermined marks (otherwise known as “hash”). The “pack” of “hounds” follows the trail, usually giving the hares about a 15 minute lead, with the goal (in theory) of catching the hares. However, the trail is not straight forward. There are false marks, dead ends, and tons of “check points” that involve things like singing, adult beverages (though never required), and various other possibilities depending on the particular “kennel” (running group). The trail usually starts with an opening circle (introductions and a warm-up), and a closing circle, where accusations of infractions made on trail occur…and of course, more singing and some more drinking.
And now is the part where I should probably tell you, while some kennel’s are what we would call “PG”, many others, and much of hashing, are more in the “rated R” category. The songs, while hilarious, are often dirty “adult” , and chances are you may end up seeing more skin than you bargained for (wear your sunglasses, pale butt cheeks are often blinding). As CNN says, the hash is “part scavenger hunt, part exercise and part debauchery.”
There are kilts, hasher names (typically earned and/or given after a certain number of trails, or some particularly worthy incident), whistles, shiggy socks, themed trails, walkers, fast runners, and people of all ages. There are so many things I could tell you, but I’m certain you simply wouldn’t believe until you see it with your own eyes. And I’ve probably already told you too much anyway…
Fast forward to now, and well, me, since this is my blog. Once upon a time, a stranger from Reno introduced me to this “running club” if you will. I tagged along, because I kind of had a crush on him, and ended up having far more fun than I ever imagined (at the hash, and with him. I ended up marrying him.) That first trail, I laughed so hard my abs hurt and tears came to my eyes. I kept going back to more trails, and have since not only learned how to laugh at myself (even more so than before), but I’ve met some amazing people that I truly call friends (but only sometimes by their real names).
Of course, my running and training ALWAYS comes first, but there are times when you just want to let loose, have fun, laugh with friends, enjoy a good micro-brew (though sometimes you’ll have to settle for a warm PBR)….and still run. And believe it or not, I still often get a killer interval workout during trail. WIN-WIN.
There are over 2,000 kennels world wide, and chances are, there is one near you. Want to give hashing a try?
Things to Know Before Running with the Hash House Harriers:
1) Go with an open mind. (The easily offended should probably stay at home)
2) Don’t wear new shoes (don’t ask why. Just don’t do it.)
3) Bring along your sense of humor. Laughter is good for you!
4) Be smart. Seriously, we all love to let our hair down and have fun, but don’t forget you are a grownup and not an obnoxious fraternity pledge. (And if you aren’t an adult over the legal age of 21, please find something else to do.) Have a designated driver if you choose to drink, be respectful of those around you (including trails and other surroundings), and by all means, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do you wouldn’t want to possibly show up on Facebook.
5) Remember that you don’t have to do ANYTHING you don’t want to do. That most definitely includes drinking alcohol. It’s not required.
6) BE YOURSELF & HAVE FUN. You will meet people from all walks of life, from elite athletes, police officers, professors, housewives, to grandmothers, and everyone in between. Hashers are some of the most friendly, welcoming, hysterical (and sometimes drunk) group of runners you will ever meet.
So there you have it. Hashing in a nutshell blog post. ON ON, friends!
Have you ever heard of the Hash House Harriers? Ever run a trail?