REPORT: NEW YORK UP CLOSE
Runners Chase Scent of Beer
The New York
February 21, 1999, Sunday
The City Weekly Desk
By NINA SIEGAL
It all begins when someone yells, ''Oy oy oy oy oy
oy!'' That someone is known as the hare, whose job is
to create a path for the chaotic jaunt to a dive bar
where the Hash House Harriers guzzle beer and down
The group, which calls itself the ''drinking club
with a running problem,'' meets several times a week
for a social event that originated with a group of
Australian expatriates in Kuala Lumpur in the 1930's.
Now there are more than 1,800 such clubs throughout
the world. The New York City chapter, which claims
about 200 men and women as members, was founded in
At 3 P.M. on a recent February afternoon, a light
snow did not stop some 40 hashers from gathering at
96th Street and Central Park West to follow the trail
the hare had set. No more than five minutes into the
run in Central Park, they faced a puzzle. Instead of
an arrow on the ground, there was a circle with an X,
meaning the trail could pick up anywhere.
Suddenly, everyone dispersed, like a group of
frenetic mice just set free. One cluster of hashers
ran north. Another headed west, up a hill.
''On, on!'' someone finally yelled, signaling that
the trail had been found. The runners headed up an
embankment and down slippery rocks through a paved
path in a tunnel, and then up a high promontory. A
double-headed arrow indicated a short cut over the
top of a hill. Half the group ran north, and the rest
went down a steep muddy slope.
An hour and several miles later, the hashers found
what they were looking for: the words ''Beer Near''
in chalk on the ground. That meant the dive bar was
close at hand. Inside the Australia Bar on First
Avenue between 89th and 90th Streets, was beer and
pizza and clean, dry clothes brought by the hares.
After circulating, the hares called everyone to the
back of the pub to dole out punishment to those
hashers who had made some mistake along the way, like
getting lost, or wearing new sneakers. The disgraced
are required to drink a pint of beer without taking
air, while the other hashers sing, ''Down, down,
Alex Reyes, 37, a professor at New York University,
was required to do a ''down, down'' because he was a
new hasher, but he seemed cheerful about it.
And while the New York chapter does seem to have
plenty of marathon veterans, one need not be a runner
to join. When David Croft, a computer consultant, was
invited to his first hash several years ago, he said,
''I was not a runner at all, but the drinking sounded
''Now, I'm living proof that hashing can actually be
good for you,'' Mr. Croft said. ''I lost 30 pounds,
and before I couldn't even run a mile.''
Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company