steeped in tradition, alcohol
Saturday, March 30, 1996
By Richard Ruelas (Staff Writer)
Drinking Club has running
They run to keep alive a
tradition started by colonial Brits 58 years ago.
They run for the camaraderie of
their fellow athletes.
They run for the exhilaration
of pushing their bodies to the limit.
And because there is beer.
They're called hashers. Their
sport is hashing. Their motto: The drinking club with
a running problem.
They drink before their 5-mile
runs. They drink during their runs. They drink when
they finish their runs. They drink when they hand out
awards and penalties after their runs.
Hashing is a human
hare-and-hound game first begun by British colonial
officers in Malaysia in 1938. The hashing phenomenon
has spread worldwide, but slowly, probably because
it's difficult to explain why all the running and why
all the drinking. It didn't hit the U.S. shores until
the early 1970s.
And it didn't hit Chandler
until 17 months ago.
Every hash-house club needs a
hash house, a bar to hang out in before the run. For
Chandler's Zonie Hash House Harriers, it's Sticks and
Steaks, a dark, modestly decorated bar where a
handful of hashers meets for the pre-chase beer known
in hashing lingo as the "on-before."
And it's here where the members
are trying to explain the history of the hash.
In Malaysia for World War II,
some English soldiers and expatriates started running
to keep in shape. To keep it interesting, one guy ran
ahead and marked a trail for the others to follow. To
keep the interest up, they had a servant meet them at
the end of the run with a tub of beer.
Hashing around the world
They named the club after their
hash house, the nickname for their military mess
hall. The tradition spread as the original members
did, around the world.
Somewhere along the way,
members started making up hashing names for
themselves, most of them made up when they were drunk
and most of the obscene.
Time to go to the run.
This one started from a park in
east Mesa. There were about two dozzen runners. While
waiting for the start, some drank beer.
One of the hares was
Ricki-Ticki-Tavi, a 29-year-old whose real name is
Ravi Kuttamparambth. The other was DINKI, who goes by
Bob MacGregor when not hashing. Both took off 15
minutes ahead of the rest of the pack, armed with
chalk sticks and flour to mark the trail.
Meantime, David Wilkie, the
"mis-manager" of the club, whose hashing
name is Dozy (biological bad word), explained the
chalk markings and signals that the club uses.
A straight line means runners
are "on trail." When a runner is on trail,
he toots twice with is ever-present whistle. Curvy
lines indicate turns. An asterisk, or check, means
the trail splits, with only one being the correct
path. At the end of the others will be three parallel
lines meaning the runner has to backtrack and give
three long toots.
Runners help each other along
the trail, marking the bad trails and warning of
It's up to the hares to make
the path creative. Creativity is known as
"Excellent trail. This is
shiggy," puffed Mark Petiford, 36, of Chandler,
as he followed flour lines through a muddy orange
grove. Petiford wirtes his hash name
"WTFRU." Don't ask what it means.
About halfway through the trail
is the welcome "BC" sign - beer check.
Runners meet around a tub of water, soda and, of
course, beer. They catch their breath and gripe about
There were even complaints
about the poor quality of the beer, but it was
"It makes it
painless," said Steve Stephens, chugging a brew.
Stephens has done more than 100
hashes. He is in the Air Force.
A sense of humor helps
"It's a social thing.
there's people here who wouldn't think of going out
and drinking and people here who wouldn't think of
going out and running," he said. "You have
to have a sense of humor. You can act a damn fool
here if you like."
Besides the monthly Chandler
hashes, Stephens and a few other also are members of
the Phoenix Hash House Harriers, which hashes weekly.
Stephens said the Phoenix runs are pretty much the
same, except there's more beer.
This hashing habit is big-time.
There's a directory of all the clubs worldwide. A
hasher never goes on vacation without knowing whether
there's a hash scheduled at his or her destination.
Souvenir patches and T-shirts are worn as badges of
Back on trail, WTFRU was lost.
He wandered down the wrong path. He couldn't find the
chalk mark telling which way to go.
WTFRU went through yet another
orange grove on a hunch.
It was the correct path, but
pointless. A few minutes later, 69derthal emerged
from the same orange grove a couple yards away.
yelled, letting those in earshot know they can skip
that las grove and follow the street straight down to
The run took about two hours.
Then came the penalty phase.
First to be penalized were the
hares, DINKI and Ricki-Ticki-Tavi, for a horrible
trail.They chugged a cup of beer while the crowd
chanted, "5-4-3-2-1-Wear It." At that
point, the hares took whatever beer was left in the
cup and poured it on their heads.
Everyone was penalized for
something. WTFRU was penalized for starting out
walking then breaking into a run. Spinal Tap and
Hasher Humper, a married couple visiting from the
White House Hash House Harriers in D.C., were
penalized for catching a car ride to the end. Trapper
had to drink for complaining about being old.
Then DINKY came back with
takeout from Taco Bell and there was much feasting.
"That's why I hash,"
said a grinning WTFRU