The Fayetteville Observer
February 3, 2000

Harriers run anywhere at any time


By J.S. Newton
Staff writer

The temperature is hovering around freezing. But there they go again, running through snow and sleet.

Some wear shorts. One wears a Viking helmet -- horns protruding from the top.

Staff photo by Marcus Castro
Carolina Trash Hash House harriers go down a hill together in freezing temperatures as they follow a trail through Waters Edge.

It could be 105 degrees or minus 5 degrees. Every Sunday, you will find these runners out making their weekly round. In their 848 Sunday jaunts -- through swamp, mud, thickets and even chilly Fort Bragg lakes -- the Carolina Trash Hash House Harriers have yet to cancel a run.

‘‘We’ve even run under Fayetteville, through underground cement pipes,’’ said Richard Cancellieri, a 30-year-old Army specialist. ‘‘We call them chug runs. You are in water up to your waist.’’

The Carolina Trash Hash House Harriers is one of many Hash groups throughout the world. The group mixes running who-knows- where with beer drinking to create an off-beat social club, whose only goal is to have fun.

Their annual events include red-dress runs, in which all the runners -- men and women -- wear red evening gowns of their choosing. Runners frequently get prizes for unusual achievements, like a rubber ball for the biggest whiner. Or awards for the Hasher who gets the most cuts and abrasions.

After all, achievement among Hashers is measured in stumbles and giggles -- not timed victories.

Where Hashing all began

Rumor has it, the tradition of traipsing over hill and dale was started in Kuala Lumpur in the late 1930s by A. S. ‘‘G’’ Gispert .

He became a member of the Federated Malay States Volunteer Reserves, which trained on Mondays. He and many of the other expatriate Brits on Kuala Lumpur were housed in barracks in the Royal Selangor Club where they would often discuss starting a running club.

About December 1938, Gispert persuaded nearly a dozen men to follow his inaugural trail run, according to The Harrier Page, a Web site that gives the history of Hashing.

Gispert suggested the name of Hash House Harriers in mock allusion to the mess at the Selangor Club, where many of the Hashers dined.

The runs were on Monday evenings after reserve training and were followed by refreshments of Tiger beer, the Web page says.

Gispert never got a chance to see his club blossom. He was killed defending Singapore from Japan on Feb. 11, 1942.

Maj. Chuck ‘‘Squirt’’ Adkins, a 43-year-old Hasher, says the U.S. Air Force formed the first U.S. Hash House Harrier club in 1973.

Adkins is a quartermaster with Fort Bragg’s 1st Corps Support Command.

He has been on Hash runs throughout the world. One was with a group of Dutch soldiers stationed with the Multinational Force and Observers in Egypt.

‘‘They ran through the desert,’’ he said. ‘‘That was pretty fun. It was about 105 degrees.’’

The Carolina Hashers group has runners from all walks of life. But many have a military background.

Their runs are just that, runs. Not races.

‘‘Race is a four-letter word,’’ said Dave Bullen, who before he began working as a county employee was a Fort Bragg soldier. ‘‘We don’t use the word ‘race.’’’

About 90 percent of the group have military ties of some nature.

The group has a loosely enforced set of guidelines.

‘‘There are absolutely no rules,’’ Cancellieri said. ‘‘Only traditions.’’

The runs are done in typical British hunting fashion. A ‘‘hare’’ sets out 15 minutes before the rest of the runners, called ‘‘hounds.’’ The hare drops off clues in the form of baking flour. On Sunday, the flour was mixed with colored drink mix so that it would stand out in the snow.

The hounds must follow the hare’s path. Along the way, the hares place cold beer at designated check points.

They also try to throw the pack off their scent by laying down false trails.

And just as a wild hare runs through prickly bushes and hops across creeks, so do the runners.

The hare can take them anywhere, runners say.

One time, the course took them on a quarter-mile swim across Mott Lake on post, a Hasher said.

‘‘Everybody had to swim for part of the trail,’’ said Sgt. Pete Walther, a soldier with the 1st Special Warfare Training Group.

‘‘Part of the point is just to see how messy you can get,’’ he said.

‘‘Sometimes the medical folks come in handy,’’ said Cancellieri, a.k.a. L.C. Smurf.
Not to be confused with Bullen, a.k.a. Stinky.

Runners who set a trail just once get a nickname, given to them by the rest of the group.

Runners also carry whistles to keep from getting lost. They sign in at the start of each run in a log book.

‘‘If somebody is missing, we will go back and find them,’’ Bullen said.

Capt. Francis Park, a staff officer with the 82nd Airborne Division, said he enjoys Hashing. His nickname, which he did not choose, is too profane to print.

‘‘It’s a neat way to meet people,’’ he said. ‘‘And it’s a good reason to actually get out and run.’’

The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer

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