Big Shout Magazine
May 1, 1996

Runnin' Through the Shiggy



Runnin' through the shiggy

Big Shout Magazine
May 1996 Sports Issue
By TOM DOUGHERTY.

ON-ON Damn those Hares!--RU? Checking, Checking...

What the hell am I talking about? The Hockessin Hash House Harriers. If you wanna run with the pack, you gotta work the lingo, and these dudes meet about once a week to run, run, run for fun, fun, fun. The complex system of terms and phrases that you see above are used in their non-competitive runs called Hashes. Doing hash runs and drinking afterwards (at the hash house) is a centuries-old way to blow off steam, and there are Hashers all over the country. Some are trained runners, some are not. The one-year-old Hockessin group consists of corporate execs, military folk, tradespeople, and now, me. Their hashing names are Up Chuck, Trisexual, Do Me, Fungi, Ass Wipe, Cumalot, Erection, and the fearless leader, Crib Snatcher, to name a few. And boy do people stare when they see this funky crew comin' down their street yelling out each other's names. "The hash, if nothing else, is irreverent," says Crib Snatcher. I guess it adds to the experience -- their hotline number is 302-NEEDFUN, and running, yelling, drinking, and being vulgar, as we all know, will release a lot of that pent-up aggression and anxiety.

The day's events began with an explanation of the trail markings, mostly for the benefit of the virgins (myself and one other person on this particular day). The thing most stressed was that there are no rules, but you still need to know what you're doing, I guess. Basically, the running trail is always laid out in advance by 1-3 "Hares," who mark a cross-country course with HASHMARKS (splotches of flour). It began in Fungi's front yard, on your typical suburban street. We, the Hounds (about 30 runners strong), set out down the road, and someone sounded his bugle and cried ON-ON! ("I'm on the trail"). We soon came upon our first "X" mark or check. This means that the trail can split off in several directions, and the Hounds must find the one true trail on which to proceed. The standard cry of "CHECKING" went up at this point. So, Crib Snatcher and I decided to try running up a nearby steep hill, only to find a big fat "F" mark a few hashmarks later, indicating that we were on a false trail. The hares are worthless scum, of course, and we were cursing them already.

Fortunately, the FRB's or Front Running Bastards (People who can actually run and tend to stay in the lead) had found the true trail and cried "ON-ON!" Clutching my asthma inhaler with one hand, and my heaving chest with the other, I thought of all the cigarettes I'd been smoking and tried to remember the last time I exercised. As we headed back downhill towards the correct trail, I heard a nearby hasher say, "Good lead, Crib Snatcher," referring to our useless run up the big hill.

Into the woods now, we wove through the polluted streams and drainage ditches of suburbia, eventually passing under Kirkwood Highway. The creek became unavoidable, and most just took the pain and hopped in with both sneakers. Like a fool, I had donned some fairly new footwear that morning, expecting neatly groomed trails and such. So, hopping from rock to rock to avoid the water, I soon found myself just about bringing up the rear, shouting "RU?" (are you on trail) all the while. Back on the street, we passed an unusual trail marker consisting of a road-killed rabbit perfectly outlined with white flour. I thought of the hares.

I was feeling better, warmed up to running, by the time we got to halfway point and a stop for a quick beer at someone's house. The worst was yet to come, but I was having a good time nonetheless. Back on the road we followed the white marks into a small causeway, the floor of which was coated with a half inch of water and the slipperiest green slime you can imagine. The crew didn't even bat an eye though, and we proceeded, over hill and dale, on pavement and through water.

"RU?"

"ON-ON!"

We entered on empty field, and the group scattered in all directions, searching. The trail could be anywhere. Experience is definitely a plus in this sport, and, no thanks to me as usual, we finally found the trail leading up a steep embankment from the bed of a creek. This was the worst shiggy we got into that day, meaning thick underbrush. Judging by the assorted cuts, scrapes, and gouges in Crib Snatcher's shins from an earlier hash, I knew this was nothing. The hill was coated with an unearthly black muck that sort of resembled mud, and this time my shoes bought the farm. The gang helped each other get through the obstacles once again and we were out.

After a quick jog through a neighborhood later, we arrived at the van for the ride home. Total elapsed time was about an hour and a half. We didn't go to the pub as I had expected, but there was a big picnic in Fungi's backyard. Then the rituals began. Everyone started singing and I didn't know what was going on, except that I had a DOWN-DOWN coming to me, since it was my first hash. Crib Snatcher poured me a cold Rolling Rock, which I had to chug (DOWN-DOWN) in one try or wear the rest on my head. I sucked it down, and the rest is history.

Anyone can join the Hockessin Hash House Harriers for a run. Call 1- 302-NEEDFUN or check `em out on the internet: http://www.ravenet.com/hhhh/ There are also clubs in Philly, Baltimore, D.C., and all around.

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