Miami Herald
November 17, 1999

Run! Here Come Hash Harriers


No prudes need apply to this wild, bawdy bunch


Even by South Florida standards, this howling wolf pack called the Hash House Harriers is wa-a-ay out there. Over the top. The kind of people you'd hide from Grandma.

Especially when the moon is full.

``This is a haven for people who aren't quite ready to reach adulthood,'' says Sheila ``Drink Like a Sailor'' Cullen, 52. ``This is Animal House 10 years later. This is the worst fraternity on your campus. We're the people your parents warned you about.''

Into the woods, over fences and through canals they go, these 30 merry, marauding members of the Fort Lauderdale chapter of the Hash House Harriers. Every Monday night is for running wild, baying at the moon, loping down miles-long mystery adventure trails, chugging brewskies, cracking bad jokes on the way.

On some nights they embrace an urban version of the ritual, simply jogging from bar to bar. Sometimes they run through South Beach or downtown Fort Lauderdale. On a recent Monday night, they followed a winding, wooded path near Fort Lauderdale International Airport.

``I figure you break even, you get some exercise and drink some beer,'' says veteran hasher Mark ``Come Again'' Warshauer. ``You kill two birds with one stone.''

The hash concept started in Malaysia 61 years ago by British Army officers who wanted to spice up their morning run. The Hash House was the name of the bar where they'd end up.

Now there are hash groups in almost every major city in the world. Hashers are welcomed by their loony brothers and sisters in every city. There is a roster 300-strong in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Each week they call the hash hotline (954-680-HASH) to learn about the next run.

The trails are blazed with toilet paper and baking flour by one of their own, the evening's designated ``hare.'' The hare also sets false trails to try to throw the runners off. If the pack catches the hare, members take his pants down and make him sit in a bucket of ice.

If you are offended easily and notice the hashers approaching, run -- don't walk -- the other way. It's a bawdy group with some of the corniest, most lewd jokes you've ever heard.

They're like a wild rugby club turned Porky's-flavored fraternity, and every Monday is hazing night. On a run, hashers are only addressed by their hash names.

``My hash name is Pussy Galore,'' proclaims Mickey Lester, 37, who lives in Fort Lauderdale. ``I have three pet cats.''

``My hash name is MCI,'' says Jim Moore, 31, who lives in Deerfield Beach and is wearing a T-shirt with the phone company letters. The initials stand for ``My [private part] Itches.'' ``My hash name is Nicolush,'' says Paul Jenner, 27, of Pompano Beach. ``I used to smoke a lot.''

No blow is too low, no insult too biting, no bathroom humor too stinky.

Hashers have no rules, but many traditions: If you mistakenly wear new shoes, you must drink beer out of them. The first time you jog the whole way, you must chug a beer. You get the idea.

The mostly young and middle-age professionals call themselves ``drinkers with a running problem.''

They always hash on a full moon. Sometimes, they run in red dresses, just for the hell of it. And the Halloween hash is too gross to explain in a family newspaper.

``We don't encourage drinking, but it is appreciated,'' says Paul ``Low Blow'' Bechtel a visitor from a Fort Walton Beach chapter.

``I do this because I'm a glutton for punishment,'' says Natalie ``Toshiblo'' Torquato, who works for Toshiba.

After their weekly ``run'' is over, they form a circle and hoot and holler. One by one, each hasher guzzles his or her beverage of choice. Most follow the Homer Simpson school of thought: beer.

While the chosen chugger is gulping, the rest sing: ``Why are we waaaaiting . . . [next verse omitted for taste] . . . Why are we waaaaiting . . . My grandmother's ovulaaaating . . . ''

``This is not a club for everybody,'' says Low Blow, proving his point with a loud belch. ``It's not for the prude.''

Published Wednesday, November 17, 1999, in the Miami Herald

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