Heads Up
March 1, 1995

Hashing Challenges Runners


The following article was published in "Heads Up" - The Magazine of Beer Drinkers of America, Vol. 8/ No. 1, Spring 1995, Page 11. It is distributed here with the permission of BDA President Bill Schreiber.

For membership information to the "Beer Drinkers of America", please call their headquarters in Sacramento, CA, at (916) 933-2337. Dues are around $10.00 a year and you get a quarterly newsletter.

HASHING CHALLENGES RUNNERS WITH UNEXPECTED TWISTS AND TURNS ON TRAIL

They're often called the "drinking club with a serious running problem". They run through cities, woods, deserts, and mountains. They follow a trail of flour and half the fun is getting lost. They're hashers and they're closer than you think.

Hashing dates back to 1938. Albert Stephan Gispert, a British military accountant on duty in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, conceived the idea to combat boredom while in the jungle. Patterned after the British games of Hares and Hounds, hashing combined running through the jungle with socializing at the local pub or "hash house".

Today, there are close to 1,100 hash clubs in 157 countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Tibet, and even Anarctica. Thousands of men and women enjoy hashing and the chance for a short run and down a cold beer (or some other beverage if they prefer).

"Nobody's supposed to win it," says long-time Chicago Hasher Jay Cook. "The idea is to keep the pack together. The attitude is there's no such thing as winning."

Hares Plan Trail

A typical hash run (if there is such a thing) goes something like this: Hashers follow a trail laid down by "hares" selected by the group. The hares mark the trail by leaving behind small piles of flour, chalk, or toilet paper, depending on the terrain. The hares try to make the terrain as confusing as possible by throwing in wrong turns and dead ends. The hashers follow later, usually laughing, singing, and shouting hashing phrases, such as "On, On!" (meaning they are on the trail) and "Are You" (meaning they are looking for the trail). Clever hares lead their "hounds" over and through a variety of terrains, which might include (but is certainly not limited to) city streets, swamplands, shopping malls, river crossings, and jungles. One run even led hashers through the Library of Congress. Many hares seek to drag their pursuers through the most "shaggy" or undesirable conditions as possible. The goal: the more mud, scratches and briars on your body at the end, the better the trail.

Hashes are usually broken up into several segments, the most important being the pre-run event, where runners can enjoy a cold beer before the run, and the "down-down" or social gathering at the end.

Hashing runs vary in length, but usually fall between three and six miles. It's also important to note that not all hashers are serious runners. Everyone is welcome to the hash regardless of athletic ability.

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