LONG IS THIS RUN?
OH, ABOUT A SIX-PACK
Wednesday, October 5, 1988
Section: Extra 1
By JON BAKER, Mercury News Staff Writer
cross-country runners who love to drink beer --
especially during a run -- need apply.
So says Joe
Oakes, a Los Altos triathlete who has traveled from
Moscow to Massachusetts to race in several unusual
runs organized by an international running group
called the Hash House Harriers.
Now Oakes is
trying to form a Hash House Harriers troop on the
Peninsula. And anyone with a love for cross-country
running and beer drinking may join.
doesn't have to put together this hash troop. A South
Bay version already exists. But Palo Altans, Los
Altans and Santa Clarans have found that traveling to
weekday hash runs at 6 p.m. -- usually between six
and 10 miles and maybe a six-pack long -- in South
San Jose or San Francisco is more difficult than
keeping the beer down.
So Oakes is
trying to put together a kick-off "Hash
Piracy" run in Redwood City on Saturday. It will
be just one of hundreds of hash runs organized by
hash troops all over the world this year.
'A lot of fun'
''I get a lot
of fun out of it," said Oakes, who figures that
50,000 people from dozens of countries belong to the
Hash House Harriers.
''It gives me a
chance to have fun and exercise at the same time,
without the pressure of having to go out and win a
in this thing for fast and slow runners," he
added. "If you don't really like to drink beer
you probably shouldn't show up. (But) we're not a
bunch of drunks. We combine fun, partying and
A hash run
usually runs as follows:
Two of the
fastest runners -- called "hares" -- begin
the run with 10-pound bags of flour on their backs.
They make a trail with the flour, which the remaining
runners attempt to follow exactly 15 minutes later.
get to a predetermined point in the race, they stop
for a beer, maybe more, and take a rest. After a
while, off they go again.
a cat-and-mouse game that usually ends with somebody
-- either a hare who was caught or a runner who got
lost -- asked to drink a pint of beer or ale.
For those few
runners who don't drink, "you can either drink
it, pour it over your head or down your crotch,"
A barbecue is
held after the race, with food and grog for all.
At the party or
during the run, you won't hear Hash House Harriers
calling each other by their real names. In fact, some
runners don't even know the names of their fellow
harriers. Instead, they use sometimes disgusting,
sometimes hilarious, nicknames, such as Mr.
Greenjeans, No Class, Three-Inch Blade, Cheech and
Chong and Exorcist.
Ray Umeda, a
optometrist from Cupertino, has run over 200 runs the
last four years, and his nickname is No Film. Other
nicknames aren't nearly as clean. They will not be
listed here to protect the innocent. And guilty.
The idea of
such an outrageous running group began in 1938, in
what now is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Several
Englishmen -- among them A.S. Gispert, Cecil Lee,
"Horse" Thomson and "Torch"
Bennett -- working overseas as businessmen or
soldiers came up with the idea one day.
they would set a paper trail for a group of runners,
and, on completing the run, hold a party, according
to the book "The Hash House Harriers 50th
proposed the name Hash House Harriers when government
officials decided the first events had to be legally
registered, the book states.
living outside of their country," Oakes said.
"They did not have much social interaction with
the countrymen or the local people because of
language and cultural problems. They ended up with a
group of similar orientation."
Oakes said he
became interested in joining the club years ago when,
after retiring as a competitive runner, he found he
wanted to continue exercising.
Since then, he
has run in hashes all over the world. Oakes ran a
hash race in Calgary, Alberta, just last week.
Digumarthi, a research engineer in Palo Alto, joined
the South Bay troop over a year ago to help mend a
He had been
going through a divorce when he met some hash
''I met Pooper
Scooper and Spiderwoman, and they told me the best
thing was to join the hash," Digurmatha said.
"I thought they were crazy. I was trying to
understand who they were and what they were doing. It
takes a couple of times to handle them. I had to get
my barriers down.
go and sit there and relax and don't ask
questions," he added. "Other times I go and
drink all the beer. It's a big help."
interested in the hash's new Peninsula troop can head
over to the hash run near the Circle Star Theater in
Redwood City before 3 p.m. Saturday. Take Highway 101
to the Whipple Avenue exit and head east. Take a
right on Industrial Boulevard, and park in a lot near
the Circle Star.
If you see a
bunch of blokes dressed up as pirates, don't panic.
It's just the hash troop preparing for another wild
The San Jose Mercury News