Beer Across America Magazine
Fall 1996 issue, page 14
By Emily Abedon writing for Beer Across America
"DRINKERS WITH A RUNNING
PROBLEM," is their defining sloga. Beer is their
They are the Hash House
Harriers (a.k.a. hashers)--beer aficionados who run,
and runners who drink beer--and their historic club
spans the globe.
Hashing is a sport loosely
modeled after the old English schoolboy game of
"hare and hounds." One ore more
"hares" sets up a path, marked with flour,
lime, or chalk, and the "hounds" then
follow the hasH-mark trail.
According to a Pittsburgh
club's Web page, the hounds follow the
four-eight-mile trail because:
- They don't know any
- There might be beer along
- It might go interesting
- There might be beer at the
In fact, places that have been
"hashed" include shopping malls,
cemeteries, swamps, jungles, beaches, college
dormitories, slag heaps, and the Hollywood sign. One
hash even took a group of runners on a plane from San
Diego to Los Angeles.
The history of such antics is
rumored to be ancient, but goes back at least as far
as the 1930's, when British soldiers in Malaysia ran
to work up a thirst before heading to their favorite
tavern. Today, there are several hundred hashing
clubs around the world, all utilizing terms
consistent with those of their English forefathers.
There are guidelines, but no
rules. The run is cooperative; the pack works as a
team to find the trail. You don't have to drink beer;
there are usually soft drinks and water at each stop.
You don't even have to run. You can walk, crawl, or
"On-on!" comes a
jubilant shout when members of the pack find they're
on the right trail. "Shiggy" is the mud,
sludge, swamp, storm drain, or whatever particularly
messy terrain the pack has been drawn through in this
arguably pointless quest. "Down-down!"
calls the boisterous crowd when beer consumption is
in order. Those with unfinished beverages run the
risk of having them dumped over thier head.
Most hash clubs run locally
once a week. Special hashing events take place on
Halloween, April Fools' Day, or pick-a-day-any-day at
a variety of locations across the country. Local hash
hotlines detail weekly happenings. And hard-core
hashers travel the nation, and even the world, for
Interhash events--mega-shindigs that have been known
to involve hasher hellions in various stages of
undress, as well as tremendous amounts of shiggy, not
to mention beer, beer, and more beer.
Second to hashers' love of the
illustrious malt beverage is their love of bawdy
humor. Runners embarking on their first hash are
labeled virgins. After a half dozen or so hashing
events, a hasher gets a name. Usually it's a title
with an explicitly dirty double entendre.
Stark Nekked, Vibrator
Dependent, Open Wide, Sweet Cheeks, Bunny Banger,
Melon Molestor, Dirty Harry, Mutha, and Tight Lips
are a few of the somewhat milder names. One married
couple is fondly known as Grunt and Groan. The hasher
at the front of the pack, vying to be first to the
beer, is known as an FRB--Front Running Bastard.
Kentucky-born hasher Chuck
Magera--whose nickname can't be mentioned
here--hashed close to 20 miles last year through the
jungle-like terrain of Orlando, Florida, to a dreamy
oasis finish line--more than 100 kegs of beer. In six
years of hashing, he has encountered trouble when
hash marks brought his group onto an airport runway;
thanked fate when he found his future wife, "Bo
Peep." on a hash cruise to Nassau; and indulged
in total hedonism via naked jaunts with a busload of
hashers through unsuspecting cities.
But the attorney can be a lot
more serious than his hashing persona would indicate.
He has trained fast and hard and won numerous 5K
"Hashing is a good
complement to racing," Magera says,
"because you can't be serious all the time, or
you'll go nuts. It's totally non-competitive. It's
the opposite of racing."
In fact, the word
"race" is strictly forbidden at hashes. The
slightest mention can bring serious consequences to
the offender. A popular punishment is sitting on ice
and chugging a beer. Other hash crimes include
wearing new shoes, having a birthday, getting lost,
and getting found.
Georgia native Mike Henderson's
hash name, Dawggie Style, stuck after an amorous
Labrador attached himself to the runner's leg in
front of a group of hashers. His interest in hashing
seems to stem from a three-way split among beer,
running, and sociability.
"It's amazing. You meet
people from all over the place," Henderson says.
"I mean, obviously beer is loved around the
world. People run around the world. And silliness
seems to be universal as well."
"I've got friends from all
over," says Babette Burstein, a 10-year veteran
Nicknamed Maui Waui after a
stint in Hawaii, Burstein helped celebrate the
international spirit at a post-Olympics Interhash in
Atlanta, sponsored by the city's seven hash groups.
Close to 100 compatriots attended the three-day
event, which featured a party, a pub crawl, and a
hash run with a dozen or so kegs.
Burstein says her friends may
have funny names, but most of them are professionals
with great senses of humor and excellent outlooks on
"We've got doctors,
lawyers, nurses, accountants, carpenters," says
Burstein, an administrative assistant at an
engineering firm. "They've got a lot of
responsibility during the week, and on weekends hash
runs are a great stress release."
It appears the desire to let
off some steam is universal. Last year's World
Interhash brought 3,500 people from all over the
world to Cyprus. In April 1997, sneakers will meet
suds in Trinidad.
The Internet has become a
popular method of finding fellow hashers in exotic
locales. There are thousands of hash sites on the
World Wide Web.
Jennifer Cox (Eager Beaver to
her hashing pals) has been following the shiggy trail
for eight years and hopes to keep it up for the rest
of her life. Several men she introduced to her hobby
didn't quite understand her love for the hash.
Needless to say, those guys didn't make the final
cut. The man she married is a happy hare.
"I think hashing brings
the world closer together," says Cox,
"uniting people who just want to stay healthy
and enjoy beer."