A Drinking Club with a Running Problem
The Hash House Harriers (abbreviated to HHH or H3) is an international group of "drinking clubs with a running problem." It is a decentralized organization, with each chapter, sometimes called a "Kennel," individually managed with no uniting organizational hierarchy. Thus, a Kennel's management is typically known as the "MisManagement" and consists of individuals with various titles, such as "Grand Moron" or "Religious Adviser." The sole purpose of a Kennel is the execution of "Hashes"-running events loosely-based on hare hunting, with beer involved.
Hashing began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938, when a casual group of British colonial officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in order to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend. The Constitution of the HHH is laid out in the following philosophy:
* To promote physical fitness among 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
The idea later spread throughout the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, then through Europe and North America, booming in popularity during the mid-1970s. At present, there are 1881 Hash groups registered in the world directory, located in 1,223 cities in 183 countries.
At a Hash, one or more members (Hares) lay a trail, usually marked with flour, which is then followed by the remainder of the group (the Pack or Hounds). Hash Marks on the ground lead the way, but front-runners are forced to slow down to find the "true" trail. Most trails contain a Beer Check, where the pack stops to consume beer, allowing any stragglers to catch up. The most critical symbols to know are: "BN" which means "Beer Near," while "BH" means "Beer Here."
At the end of the trail is a bit of social activity known as the "On In" or "Down Down," predominantly an occasion to drink beer and feast. The use of real names during an event is discouraged, and members are typically given a "Hash Name." Newcomers are referred to by their given name, typically with "Virgin," or "Just" prepended to their first name. Sometimes, a Hash Virgin earns a nickname, usually in deference to a particularly notorious escapade, a personality trait, or their physical appearance. Down-Downs can also serve out punishment (usually chugging a beer) for misdemeanors such as wearing new shoes or a race T-shirt, or the use of real names.
Confessions of a Hash Virgin
The Bend Hash Kennel was first encouraged last year by Teague Hatfield, owner of the Footzone, and then the cause was taken up by a Hasher named "Rulebook." Rulebook was the Live Hare for the Billygoat Hash, the 13th Hash put on by our young local chapter, in which I partook last Wednesday evening. I joined a motley crew of about a dozen other Hashers, including "It Sucks to Be Last" and "Check Back Bastard," for the four to five mile jaunt throughout Shevlin Park and surrounds. Twelve minutes after Rulebook departed with his sack of flour, we dashed across the bridge and up the hill in hot pursuit. A dot of flour on the ground means you are on the trail, but the possibility for false trails and dead ends tends to keep the pack together. The cool thing about a Hash is that it's a team sport, rather than competitive. The pack works together with the ostensible goal of catching the Hare, but, from what I can tell, truly the goal is to just find the beer. And, without even knowing it, you've also run five miles.
I think this could be my new sport.
So, if you bump into a bunch of groggy runners yelling "On! On!" out in the woods, you'll know you've stumbled upon a Hash. Or you could join in the fun. On Tuesday March 31, Wile Wabbit, aka Ass Backwards, will live hare a four-mile Hash on dirt or gravel at Pine Nursery. Meet at Ponderosa Elementary at 5:45pm. Visit www.bendhash.com for more information.