Honoluly Weekly
May 1, 1994

Rebels Without a Pause

Rebels Without A Pause

by David K. Choo

The Honolulu Hash run around, through and over some of the city's most exclusive, inaccessible and unlikely real estate.

They call themselves a drinking group with a running problem. Security guards, police (both civilian and military) and other protectors of private property may have other names for them. A close-knit but loosely organized running and drinking group--whose routes and on-trail behavior have few boundaries--the Honolulu Hash House Harriers run around, through and over some of the city's most exclusive, inaccessible and unlikely real estate.

"We're usually very cautious about private property," says veteran harrier Paul Woodford "But yeah, we end up being chased all over the place. We especially like to get into drainage ditches, you know--.anything to get off the road. One time we got chased through the Dole pineapple fields. Security eventually ran us down to this gorge and into Red Run Stream, where we were up to our waists in water. There wasn't anyplace for us to go at that point.'' Typically, however, they were let off the hook (no Honolulu Harrier has been arrested in the line of duty to date).

Created in 1938 by a group of bored British expatriates who met regularly at Kuala Lumpur's Selangor Club (affectionately known as "the hash house"), the original "hash" (a catchall term referring to the group, the race and just about everything else having to do with the pastime) modeled their technique after the English schoolboy game of "Hounds and Hares," in which a single runner with a reasonable head start (the hare) sets a trail and is then pursued by a pack of his classmates (the harriers and harriets). In the playing fields of Eaton, the hares used flour and strips of paper to mark their trails. In the concrete jungle of cities like Honolulu, chalk is the weapon of choice, and it is used to scrawl hieroglyphic-type clues to keep the pursuers close. On finding one of these clues, a harrier/ette immediately yells, "On, on!" and the pack follows. While the ultimate goal is to catch the hare (this rarely happens), it is the thrill of the chase, the camaraderie and the opportunity to finish a good run (this always happens) that keeps the runners coming back.

"I really like running, but I don't like competition," says harriette Catherine Caine. 'With the hash you get an opportunity to run at some great locations with some fun people. We have a diverse crowd--liberals, conservatives, feminists--that accepts you for who and what you are. Don't get me wrong--they're not very well behaved, and this certainly isn't the place for the politically correct There's a lot of playful baiting that goes on, but I've found that it helps if you shout a lot."

Briefly interrupted by World War II, the popularity of hashing exploded in the '70s. (It reached Hawaii's shores in 1978.) Today hashes can be found around the world and throughout the United States. (Southern California. Texas and Florida are home to large numbers of hashes.) According to the Honolulu hash's "religious advisor" (head harrier) Dwight Jackson, the sport's spread throughout the world can be traced to its British colonial roots: "Wherever the British were, you'll find a hash. I ran in one in London, and I met people who ran in places like Oman, Bahrain, all over." But hashing may have less to do with colonialism than with some good old-fashioned rebellion - a chance to thumb your nose at authority once in a while. "Beijing had a hash for a while. but government officials were immediately suspicious," continues Jackson. "they figured that a group of people running around having fun must he subversive. After armed guards chased the runners around for a while, the government banned hashing altogether

Every Tuesday afternoon a group of about 30 to 40 subversives meet at a location that is announced on a telephone information line called "the hareline." "Everyone's welcome," says Woodford. "We get a lot of tourists who call us up, and the next thing you know, they're out there running with us. It works like that all over the world. Once on a trip to Hong Kong--a world-class hashing city - I called up one of the groups there and was told that a car would come by to take me to their hash. I was waiting outside my hotel when the next thing I know, this limousine pulls up. ... You meet all types of people."

In keeping with their nonconformist ideals, the Honolulu hash has only two rules by which its members adhere. The first is that there are no rules. The second is that if they ever get organized, the first order of business is to disband. The hash does have a number of "traditions" that seem suspiciously like rules but nevertheless still maintain the group's purity of line. For instance, articles of clothing that have the words "race" or "marathon" imprinted on them aren't allowed, and new running shoes are immediately stomped on.

An integral but not required part of hashing is beer drinking. New members are initiated into the group with a frat house-type ceremony called a "down-down," where a beer is guzzled, a ribald song is sung and the novice is given a new name, usually of the bathroom humor variety. Woodford's, for instance, is Flying Booger. Down-downs are also regularly administered to members as a sort of pseudo punishment for infractions incurred during the run. "The drinking isn't all that big of a deal," assures Jackson. "Most of our members are runners first, and that's what they really come out for." Following a hash the group goes to a nearby restaurant, where beer and spirited conversation flow. "Oh yes, there's a lot of machismo at these things," says Caine, "but we have a group of harriettes who see it as our duty to keep it in check."

The worst place to hash? Ala Moana Center, where, hash members say, security guards seem especially militaristic. Most unusual runs? Well, there was one that took them along the rim of Diamond Head, another one that ended up at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station plunk in the middle of nighttime maneuvers, and, of course, there was the time Mountain Mary lost the trail and ended up spending the night on Tantalus.

"There have been so many of them," says harrier Tom "Beaver Breath" Eisen. "But probably the most memorable was the time that one of our guys thought he'd caught the hare - you know, to catch a hare you have to pull his or her pants down. Well, the alleged hare was bending down tying his shoe when our harrier snuck up behind him and woosh! Of course, he got the wrong guy, just a regular runner. The worst thing about it was that the harrier stayed around and tried to explain to the guy why he'd pantsed him. We had a major downdown after that run."

Honolulu Weekly 1994

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