Gazette Telegraph
March 3, 1996

Running Wild


LIFESTYLE
SUNDAY MARCH 3, 1996
GAZETTE TELEGRAPH - COLORADO SPRINGS

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Running Wild

Hash House Harriers chug toward keg of gloden glory

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By Dave Curtin
Gazette Telegarah

They run down streets and back alleys, ford streams, climb fences, explore storm drains and scale cliffs. They are the Pikes Peak Hash House Harriers. Their motto: "The Drinking Club with a Running Problem."

"We're referred to as the lunatic fringe of running," says hasher Charles Baumerich, 45, a retired Army administrator. "It's not for everyone. You either love it or you hate it. There's no ambivalence about it."

Hashing has nothing to do with the drug culture. It's a biweekly hare-and-hound game in which the hare blazes a trail, marking his devious way with flour, all the while pursued by a shouting pack of harriers. It's no coincidence that the trail usually ends at a bar.

During one recent hash, the hare devilishly led the hounds to the back of a U-Haul truck, slammed the door and hauled the hapless harriers to another part of town.

"We got dropped off and ran some more," Baumerich recalls. "You put a bunch of people in the back of a dark U-Haul and it gets interesting. "I don't know if it was safe, but it was interesting."

"Another time, we ran through The Broadmoor hotel lobby. The doorman held the door for us."

The course is up to the creativity of the hare. "You never know where you're going. It takes you to a lot of unusual places, like the bottom of Fountain Creek where you get your feet wet," Baumerich says. "We've had 226 hashes. There's few places we haven't gone."

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."

Mark Zablocki shows up at a vacant parking lot on Woodmen Road wearing a 7-pound chain around his neck. It will pound on his chest as he runs the 5-mile surprise course with 40 fellow hashers. As the FRB (Front Running Bastard) of the last hash, Zablocki will be encumbered with the chain to make sure it doesn't happen again. "It beats the hell out of your chest," he says good-naturedly.

"While it may be personally satisfying to finish first, collectively it's looked down upon to over-excel," says Zablocki, who's hash moniker is "Lip Lock Me."

Continued on page D2

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D2

Hashers: Some of their rituals are better left unpublicized

The hashers earn the nicknames -- most of them unprintable -- after their fifth hash. Originally they were designed for anonymity -- and some hashers still use them for that. Now they're a mainstay of the group's essence. "I don't think any mainstream publication will want to capture the entire true essence," says Baumerich, a k a ZIPpY the Cyberpimp.

"We have a -- how should I put this -- a risque side -- to put it nicely, especially in the hot tub."

He refused to elaborate.

"A lot of people are on the straight and narrow in their everyday jobs and lives but they can come here to let their hair down and get a little crazy before before they go back to work on Monday and be a doctor or a nurse or a military officer," says ZIPpY.

On this day a medical doctor, teacher, nurse, printer, helicopter pilot and hospital administrator are among those who gather for the 227th hash. They are adorned in stocking caps and earmuffs as the wind chill approaches single digits. Many have beer mugs belted to their waists.

The oldest of the group, 60-year-old technical writer Bob Hough or "Silver Moon," joined the group at its inception in 1988. "It's a fun group. We know how to party," he says.

Weather never dissuades them, Hough says. They have run in below-zero weather, pouring rain and driving snow.

Bruce "Slug Sucker" Huber is today's hare and unknown to the ambitious -- and at times drooling -- hounds, he has devised a devious trail that winds through fields, business parks, side streets and an ice-filled drainage culvert under I-25. Halfway is the beer check, where the runners will pop a Strohs and change theirshoes, socks and sometimes their shorts - depending where the trail leads them.

"It's not a race," ZIPpY says. "Some run it, some jog it, some walk it. We're by and large extremely noncompetitive. But each time we try to make it interesting."

The course ends at Nemeth's Baja BBQ & Cantina, a restaurant and lounge on North Nevada Avenue, where "The Beer Chug" will take place.

"Usually when we start leg wrestling on the floor of the bar, management will come over and let us know to knock it off," ZIPpY says without a hint of sheepishness.

Noel Lally, also known as "Jethro Bodine" -- because, well, he looks like Jethro -- flies to Colorado Springs twice a month from Mesa, Ariz., to hash with the Pikes Peak harriers. "The chapter in Phoenix is not near this caliber of fun," Lally says.

There are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs in all parts of the world, with newsletters, hotlines, directors and even regional and world hashing conventions.

"I could go to anywhere in the world and a fellow hasher will welcome me with open arms as soon as I tell them my hash name," says Kimberly Todd, also known as "Fireindahole" and one of 30 women in the 90-member Pikes Peak chapter.

"In some chapters, the people use it as another excuse to run. Our chapter is more social than athletic," ZIPpY says. "Here, it's a great way to meet new people."

Harriers chuck the rules and all their worries It's a hashing tradition to retrieve anything out of the ordinary from the trail and bring it to "The Beer Chug" also known as "The Down-Down." On this day, one runner finishes the course clutching a deer leg. Ray "Caveman" Burgess once found a human femur while hashing near Killeen, Texas in 1991. The bone led to the identification of a body missing for eight years years.

Rarely is hashing so serious. "It's a stress release," says Caveman, who wears a top hat adorned with a turkey feather and carries a (nonhuman) bone on all runs. "It's like family. You can be your moniker. I come here to relax. At work I have to be a strict by-the-rules kind of guy," says Burgess, an Army hospital administrator. "Here, I can wear a dress -- or a thong if I want," which he has done over his Spandex.

"I do it for the social aspects," says teacher Sherry Ferguson, who transferred here from the Houston Hash House Harriers. "Here you can be whoever you want to and no one cares," says Todd.

Each hash ends with a beer-based awards ceremony. Here, hashers nominate each other for awards for inauspicious occurrences such as peeing in a ditch or seen catching a ride to the end. The honored harrier must chug a beer (called a "down-down") from a toilet plunger.

The restaurant has wisely placed a plastic mat on the floor to collect thrown and spilled beer during post-hash festivities. A group of hashers pick up the mat and drain it into an obliging runner's wide-open mouth.

Next, the group's religious adviser, Randy "Stumpy Worm" Mimm is appropriately recognized. As religious adviser, Mimm is held accountable for the weather. Today's weather: not that good. You know what that means. A down-down out of a plunger.

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HASH-HOUSE LINGO

  • On-before: where the harriers meet before they run to drink beer. But not too much beer "because it's real easy to hurl and that's beer abuse," says Charles Baumerich, a k a ZIPpY the Cyberpimp. "We don't like to waste beer."
  • On-on: the running event itself and also what the runners chant when they are on the hare's trail.
  • Beer check: the halfway point of the secret course.
  • On-after: the finish line, not coincidentally, a bar. Also known as "the beer chug."
  • Down-down: a beer chug, of which there are several.
  • Beer abuse: wasting beer.
  • Disorganizer: an event organizer.
  • Mismanagement: club management.

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THE SCOOP ON HASHING

* HASH HOTLINE for updates on upcoming hashes: 719-576-0331.

* WHEN: 2 p.m., alternate Saturdays, year-round.

* WHERE: anywhere.

* FEES: $5 per hash. First-timers (visitors and virgins) are free.

* AGE: over 21.

* CLUB TYPE: mixed.

* NUMBER OF MEMBERS: 90.

* AVERAGE PACK SIZE: 45.

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Copyright 1995-1996 The Gazette Telegraph

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