Who Are the Hash House Harriers?
by Flying Booger ([email protected])
Originally published in Hawaii RacePlace Magazine, June ’95 & stolen from Zippy’s Spring’s Harriers Page
Hashing: it’s a mixture of athleticism and sociability, hedonism and hard work, a refreshing escape from the nine-to-five dweebs you’re stuck with five days a week. Hashing is an exhilaratingly fun combination of running, orienteering, and partying, where bands of harriers and harriettes chase hares on eight-to-ten kilometer-long trails through town, country, and desert, all in search of exercise, camaraderie, and good times.
Hashing began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938, when a group of British colonial officials and expatriates founded a running club called the Hash House Harriers. They named the group after their meeting place, the Selangor Club, nicknamed the “Hash House”. Hash House Harrier runs were patterned after the traditional British paper chase. A “hare” was given a head start to blaze a trail, marking his devious way with shreds of paper, all the while pursued by a shouting pack of “harriers”. Only the hare knew where he was going… the harriers followed his clues to stay on trail. Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and solving the clues, reaching the end was its own reward… for there, thirsty harriers would find a tub of iced-down beer.
Hashing died out during World War II (Japanese occupying forces being notoriously anti-fun) but picked up in the post-war years, spreading through the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand… then exploding in popularity in the mid-70s. Today there are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs in all parts of the world, with newsletters, directories, and even regional and world hashing conventions.
Hashing hasn’t strayed far from its Kuala Lumpur roots. A typical hash today is a loosely organized group of 20-40 men and women who meet regularly to chase the hare. We follow chalk, flour, or paper, and the trails are never boring… we run streets and back alleyways, but we also ford streams, climb fences, explore storm drains, and scale cliffs. And although some of today’s health-conscious hashers may shun cold beer in favor of water or diet sodas, trail’s end is still a celebration and a party.
If you’d like to try hashing, there’s probably a group in your area. For a list of hash contacts in the USA and North America, check out the Half-Mind index.
So… if you’d like to spice up your running program with fun, good company, new surroundings, and physical challenge, try hashing.
THE DAYTON HASH
The Dayton Hash was born on 28 June 1987 when Geoff “Little Tooter” Jumper got a group of fourteen runners, walkers and others together for an afternoon of hashing. The first trail was set in Centerville near the intersection of Bigger Road and Whipp Road. Since that time, the Dayton Hash has completed over 1100 hashes in every part of the greater Dayton area. During the year some special events are held, such as a Hangover Hash on New Years day, a Spring Formal with hashers in their best “Hash Formal” attire (think “Prom Gone Bad”), a Halloween hash with hashers in costume, and a Christmas Lights Hash followed by a party and gift exchange. There may also be special hashes to commemorate significant hash events.
WHEN DO WE HASH ?
The Dayton Hash House Harriers hash every other Saturday and on the evenings of the Full Moon and New Moon. During Daylight Savings Time, the hashes usually start at 4 PM. During the winter, when we are on Standard Time, the hashes usually start at 3 PM. The Moon hashes usually start at 7 PM. But check the erections for each hash!
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO HASH ?
Just show up at a hash and the hashers will welcome you to the group and will explain the trail marking and local customs. Normally a seasoned hasher will accompany you on your first hash to help you complete the trail and enjoy your hashing experience. Just remember one thing: NEVER wear new shoes to the hash!
GOALS OF THE HASH
From the 1938 charter of the Kuala Lumpur Hash House Harriers
- 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