Feature photo cred: Ashe Holder
My life took a turn for the better in March 2015 when my friend Candida invited me to my very first Hash Run. I’m usually the type of person that “googles” everything, but for some odd reason I went into this blindly. The run was quite intimidating at the start, as I didn’t know what to expect. My super athletic friend left me eating her dust (or in this case beach sand) 5 minutes into the run, as she casually said to me “I’m going to run ahead ok?” To which I responded (out of breath I might add) “Oh…kay”. Essentially, I had to run along the beach at Balandra in the dreadful 4 o’ clock sun, through a large open field, up and down…up and down..and up and down some mountains and then up and down again. Surprisingly, I didn’t die and made some friends along the way. Only then did I realize how unfit I was. I mean I have a gym membership and all that, but wow was I a mess.
Hashing has motivated me to up the ante on my cardio. I started running more as training for hash. I’d be in trouble if hardcore hashers read this hehe. This has definitely changed my overall lifestyle. I’m more energetic and boy oh boy, those endorphins got me hyped. Hashing has become part of my life now, maybe a little too much at times. I’m always thinking about the next hash. I run with a group called the Port of Spain Hash House Harriers . The camaraderie of this group of people always amazes me. I’ve invited many friends and they’ve all enjoyed the overall experience.
Here’s a bit more on hashing:
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 weekly or biweekly 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.
Click here to locate a Hash group near you.
So . . . if you’d like to spice up your running program with fun, good company, new surroundings, and physical challenge, try hashing. 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
My friends have hopes of planning our very first hash soon. I’ll be sure to let you know if (and that’s a big if, because I don’t think I’m quite ready) and when we decide on a date.
Love, light and longevity,