Hash Running; sounds a bit suspicious doesn’t it?! What if I told you we also follow a trail of white powder, have strange nicknames and rely on a Religious Adviser to control the weather!
Truly Hash Running isn’t as suspicious as it sounds; it is a little different though.
Hash Running: How Did That Start?
Back in 1938 a group of British military and ex-pat folk living in Malaysia decided they needed something new to occupy their evenings. They devised a type of run where a trail was laid by one member (the Hare) and followed by the others (the pack). In order to keep the pack together a lot of shouting is done. If you hear runners shouting ‘on on’, on back’ or ‘are you?’ you are probably encountering a hash run!
At the end of a hash run members would gather and drink beer. Hence the group motto ‘A drinking club with a running problem’. The emphasis is very much on the social side and ‘competitive hashing’ is discouraged with a ‘down down’ – more on that later! This means that runners of all speed and ability are able to take part.
Since then Hash Running with the Hash House Harriers has spread worldwide. If you go to many countries around the world you will find a hash group.
So, how does it work?
The trail is generally laid using flour, shredded paper, chalk or even sawdust. A hare may lay the trail in the hours before the run but occasionally they choose to be a live hare and attempt to lay trail whilst being chased by ‘the pack’.
Our group, the Quorn Hash House Harriers (QH3), use flour for their trails. Small blobs of the flour are left, at intervals, along the trail. The pack sets off and follows the blobs until the come to a ‘check’. This is usually marked by a circle of flour and indicates that the trail could go off in various directions. Members of the pack will head off in each direction until one of them finds three blobs of flour in a row. This means they are on trail and will holler ‘On on’ to get the rest of the pack to follow them.
Checks bring the pack back together. The fastest runners will often head off on a false trail and need to run back to re-join the pack. This gives the back runners a chance to catch up and the cannier hashers an opportunity for a breather!
Most of the runs we do are between four and six miles; the more you check the further you run. We also have walking options and dogs are welcome on the hash. It’s a pretty inclusive group.
Evening trails tend to be in more urban areas with weekend hashes further out in the countryside. The most important point being that we run from a pub and end at a pub. Dog friendly, real ale pubs are the preference!
But now for the quirks…
On the hash my name is not Cadi, it’s Lily the Pink. I am now as used to being called Lily as I am Cadi. My Dad’s hash name is Premature (he won’t thank me for telling you that). We have become very close friends with Chicki and Too Tuf but it was a long time before we knew their real names.
All hashers have a hash name and many of them are too risqué to mention here. A hash name is earned, usually through something a bit stupid you do or say. Mine came about due to the large amount of pink running gear I own. I think I got off lightly.
The post run circle is as important as the run itself. During the circle hashers are given ‘down downs’ for various misdemeanours spotted during the run. Competitive hashing = down down. Lazy checking = down down. Asking a member of the public where the trail goes = down down. To be honest it doesn’t matter if you have done something or nothing; you will get a down down. The songs accompanying the down downs may be a little rude when young ears aren’t around.
Don’t wear new shoes. Flashy running gear is not encouraged on the hash. Do try to wear your oldest running shoes. Turn up in new shoes and you will be drinking out of them during the circle.
There are roles within the hash. The Grand Master, Religious Advisor and Hash Cash are just a few of the roles assigned to members. I was very proud to be made Hash Flash last year. Turns out this had nothing to do with taking my clothes off. I was being asked to take photographs for the hash Facebook and blog.
Is it scary or fun?
It is great fun. We have made fantastic friends through the group and it has opened up a wonderful new world. Earlier this year we headed to the Peak District for the Quorn Hash weekend. Packed full of laughter, walking, beer and running; everything I want in a weekend! Later this year we will be heading to Nash Hash with hundreds of other hashers from around the country.
Despite the emphasis on socialising you don’t have to be a drinker. Some hashers don’t drink at all and some only occasionally. There is no pressure to drink alcohol, you can do your down down with a softie.
Hash running is perfect for lapsed runners or people who hate just going out for a boring run. You won’t get left behind and nobody cares how fast you can go. That said we have some pretty nifty runners on the hash too. It is a great mix.
So, if you spot random blobs of white stuff in your local area it’s probably not poison (you’d be surprised how many people jump to this conclusion). If you see lots of confused looking runners, they probably are lost, but they will make their way back to the pub in the end!
Fancy giving it a go?