you run for your beer
The Providence Journal Bulletin
Sports Section, Page C5
By Tom Meade, Journal-Bulletin Sports Writer
Hash House Harriers have gotten
a strong foothold in R.I.
The Hash House Harriers say
theirs is a drinking club with a running problem.
Rhode Island has two club
chapters, or "Hashes," the younger one in
Newport, where there are a lot of serious runners.
"Because we have so many
athletes, we take pride in a good run, but we still
have fun," says Karen Murphy, whose Hash handle
is Mouth Full all Harriers and Harriettes have
Founded in 1986 in the northern
part of the state, the Rhode Island Hash House
Harriers celebrated their 550th run last week. Beery,
bawdy and blasphemous, the Rhode Island group is
trying to loosen up the Newporters, says Bill
Matsinger, the group's spiritual leader, whose handle
is Basket Boom Boom. The Rhode Island group's real
leader is Jake, a yellow Labrador retriever. The
Rhode Island Harriers takes pride in it's beer and
A Hash runs every week: Newport
generally is out on Sunday, starting at 2 p.m., and
the Rhode Island Hash usually starts each Monday at
6:30 p.m. Directions for getting to the start of a
Hash generally are available on the Internet; reviews
of past run's are there, too.
Flying Booger, one of the Web's
leading authorities on hashing, quotes the group's
original charter on the goals of the Hash:
- Promote physical fitness.
- Get rid of weekend
- Acquire a good thirst and
satisfy it with beer.
- Persuade the older members
that they are not as old as they feel.
Modeled on the old English
schoolboy game of hares-and-hounds, a run is set by a
"hare," who marks the trail with flour or
lime. He also stashes beer along the way. The hounds
are supposed to follow the trail, according to
another Internet author, because:
- They don't know any
- There might be beer along
- There might be beer at the
Sometimes, the hare sets false
trails to confuse the hounds and to keep them from
getting to the suds too soon. At the first stop of
Rhode Island's 550th run last week, Basket Boom Boom,
the hare, stashed spiked, mulled cider to warm the
hounds as they paused to sing dirty ditties.
The hounds' running ability
ranges from world-class to asthmatic. In a pack, they
work cooperatively. When the lead hounds find a
hare's mark they shout "On-On!" At a
"check," where the trail branches and the
hare may have gone in any direction, strike hounds
scout the possibilities while those in the back of
the pack yell "Are you?" as in "Are
you on the trail?" At a check, most of the
hounds slow down to catch their breath. When a hound
three hare marks in a row, he
knows he's on the trail and yells "On-On!"
Sometinmes the slowest hounds lead the pack because
they are the first to find the hare's trail at a
The Rhode Island Hash generally
runs through woods. With flashlights on dark winter
nights. On the edges of highways. Through swamps and
muck they call "shiggy." On their 550th
Hash last week, they sank up to their crotches in
shiggy covered by skim-ice. During the Christmas Hash
Sunday, a group of Harriers and Harriettes from
Boston lost the trail and found themselves in a
Burrillville backyard with some gentlemen carrying
shotguns, who notified the hounds that they were
trespassing on private property.
Hash House Harriers have run
through cities, jungles, sewer pipes and shopping
Founded in the 1930's in
Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, Hash House Harriers
have spread around the world.
For the Rhode Island Christmas
Hash, runners from several countries represented
Hashes in Boston, Hartford and Newport.
Skinkle came to Rhode Island
for the Christmas run, having just completed the Red
Dress, a huge charity event in which more than 500
Hash House Harriers ran in red dresses. The Rhode
Island Hash is planning a similar event for Mother's
Day; Basket Boom Boom says he already hash his outfit
selected. It's a sexy strapless number with matching
At the end of each run, the
hounds gather in a circle for more singing and the
"down-down," a ceremony in which the hare
must down a bedpan full of beer in one swallow; what
he cannot drink he must pour over his head. The same
goes for visitors and those new to the Hash.
"Every Hash has it's own
charachter," says Cindy Duerr, a Rhode Island
Harriette who has an X-rated handle. "Some are
family-oriented, some are serious about their
running, and some are more about parties and
To learn about when and where
the Rhode Island Hash House Harriers are running,
call the answering machine at 401-568-3157; for
information about the Newport Hash, call the
answering machine at 401-841-0467.