They're Off (Way Off)
KARLIN, Special to The Times
Los Angeles Times
Sunday August 30, 1998
Life & Style, Page 1
It's a quiet
summer evening in this Long Beach neighborhood,
families sitting on stoops and children playing on
the sidewalks, when the crowd of more than 100
lingerie-clad men and women rounds the corner and
runs down the street. Two men stop in mid-sentence,
"What the . . . ?" Children giggle and run
after the pack, like a warped version of the Pied
Piper. A bunch of young guys playing basketball
Patrick," one of the runners yells to a hefty
man in a crew cut and flowing pink nightgown, "I
think that was for you!"
Patrick blows a
kiss. The basketball players look horrified.
Welcome to the
mad world of the Hash House Harriers--"a
drinking club with a running problem"--that has
amassed a worldwide network of roughly 2,000 chapters
(known as "kennels") in nearly every
country and Antarctica, and who stay in touch via the
Internet. (See http://www.hash.org for Southern California
sponsored by the Long Beach Harriers, is the annual
Lingerie Run. The Long Beach club runs every Thursday
night, Sunday mornings after daylight saving time
ends. The Los Angeles chapter runs Monday nights in
summer, Saturday afternoons after daylight saving
time. Orange County runs alternate Friday nights and
Saturday mornings. There are the Full Moon Run and
the PMS Run, every 28th day of the month, among
others. Then there are special events, like the Red
Dress Run in San Diego during Labor Day weekend; the
Betty Ford Run in Palm Springs in March, when hashers
dash past the famous substance abuse center carrying
beers; and the Limo and Stripper run in Long Beach in
about being politically incorrect," says Bruce
Gulde, sporting a lovely black-lace camisole and a
single blue feather earring. A six-year hashing
veteran, Gulde is the head ("grandmaster"
in hash-speak) of the Long Beach harriers. "I
had to be dragged to my first hash. But when I showed
up and saw people drinking beer before they ran, I
figured these were my kind of people."
based on an old English game called Hounds and Hares.
Two people (the hares) set out ahead of the pack (the
hounds) and mark a trail with handfuls of flour and
chalk arrows, sometimes marking false trails for an
additional challenge. If hounds catch up and tag the
hares (called a "hare snare") they write
both their real and hash names on the ground with
chalk at the point of impact.
That's another tradition. After six runs, people earn
nicknames that reflect their profession, real name or
something really stupid they've done on a hash.
Gulde's wife, Tami, is Blow Up Doll, because her
license plate bears the letters TNT. Dwight Des
Lauriers earned the name Stick Bite after feigning a
rattlesnake bite on one run, while Don Markowitz, who
works in a microbiology lab, is called Fungus
call people by their real names--it's not cool,"
says Gulde. "And never, ever say the word
'competition' in a hash." Being a front runner
is frowned on as it connotes an unseemly
harriers were 18th century British hunting dogs, with
the human version following in the next century. In
1938, the modern organization sprang from a British
Royal Navy unit in Kuala Lumpur as a way of curing
boredom. "Hash House" was the nickname of
the Royal Selangor Club, the country's expatriate
social center. The tradition spread around the world
as members of the unit transferred to other bases.
This year the Hash House Harriers will celebrate its
60th anniversary on Oct. 1 in Kuala
Lumpur, where some 6,000 hashers are expected.
with its own language, and each kennel has its own
approach. Aruba hashers mark trails with paper flags,
because flour markers tend to be eaten by goats. And
hash folklore abounds. Like the time the Secret
Service detained hashers who tried to cross a
presidential motorcade in Arkansas. Or the times in
Dallas and Pasadena when hazardous materials units
were called out to identify the mounds of flour
marking trails. Then there was the guy who climbed to
the top of the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt, at
Interhash '96. The local institution is Fungus
Amungus, a 12-year veteran who's hashed in 50
countries and had a hash wedding.
evening's four-mile trek leads to a public parking
lot where the hashers spend the next two hours
guzzling beer and singing drinking songs with
colorfully unprintable lyrics. Chronic talkers are
punished by being forced to sit--sans pants--on a
block of ice. It's all quite frightening when you
learn what these people do for a living. Gulde is a
telecommunications engineer. Blow Up Doll is an
insurance agent, and Stick Bite--redefining fashion
on this occasion in a matching red corset, garters,
stockings and flowered underpants--works for the
Department of Defense.
have limits. Not everyone drinks alcohol, and don't
expect a run to mark the anniversary Monday of
Princess Diana's death.
known for bad taste, but there are some things even
we won't do," says a man who is resplendent in a
black-lace teddy and fright wig reminiscent of Cher's
days with Gregg Allman (perhaps explaining the
hasher's reluctance to release his name). "But
we're gonna have fun with Clinton. We're already
planning a Monica Lewinsky Run. Everyone has to wear
a blue dress with a stain."
Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times, 1998.