places they'll go!
August 22, 1998
By Christopher Rose
Six days a week, it is
appropriate to accord the 150 members of the Hash
House Harriers running club the perfunctory
courtesies and respect worthy of others like them -
workaday accountants, lawyers, welders, therapists,
secretaries, office managers, whatever.
However, on Monday nights, the
veneer of respectability is dashed as these people -
hashers, they call themselves - descend into their
weekly ritual of pranksterism. They become a menace
to society, a danger to democracy, a threat to pets,
small children, golfers, shopping center security
guards and railroad engineers. They become
post-adolescent fraternity doofuses, spitball artists
and class clowns with their silly songs and
disruptive traditions, public vulgarities and secret
But, despite their proclivities
toward cross-dressing and the alarming frequency with
which they contract poison ivy, they sure are a
The New Orleans Hash House
Harriers are the local branch of an international
running organization that prioritizes pranksterism
and partying over any real hint of fitness and
They call themselves the
"drinking club with a running problem" and
this does not seem inaccurate by any means.
Unless the weekly run calls for
costumes in keeping with occasional themed events
(the annual bondage run, for instance, or this week's
red dress run) the Hash house Harriers often resemble
any other social running club, except there's more
Once the weekly race begins,
however, everything is different. An advance team of
runners (called hares) lays a trail of white flour
for other runners (hounds - get it?) to follow.
Depending on the whims of the hares, the run may
follow a conventional roadside route or, more likely,
will detour through public squares, parking ramps and
dense woods - hence, the poison ivy - with many false
trails along the way.
(Once, when the trail led
through the columned sidewalk corridor of the River
Market shopping center on Tchoupitoulas street,
security guards surrounded the bunch and made them
sweep up their flour. "It was the most
embarrassing moment in the history of the New Orleans
club," says veteran hasher Chip Marz. "I've
never heard of hashers anywhere cleaning up their own
Anything goes. The run moves
from one end of the area to the other, from the West
Bank to Harahan to eastern New Orleans to downtown.
Trails are marked from one beer stop to the next and
the runners usually call it a day after four or five
miles or so. Then they sing songs, welcome guests,
initiate new members, all of which involve you
guessed it - drinking beer.
It's a grand old tradition
borne of a handful of bored Englishmen stranded in a
colonial outpost 60 years ago, and one embraced with
characteristic New Orleans aplomb.
"We like to be seen, to
cause a ruckus," says New Orleans hasher Peter
Caddoo, the club's current Grand Master and a
beermaker for Dixie brewery. "We like to run
through hotel lobbies and through shopping centers.
We sometimes run on private property but you
shouldn't print that. Oh, go ahead and print it;
we're never there very long anyway. We try to stay
off golf courses because that would be disrupting a
(Within two hours of this
statement, the Hash House Harriers pattered in
general disarray between the 5th green and 11th
fairway of Audubon Golf Course, disrupting all manner
of genteel sporting life, but how could Caddoo have
anticipated this; After all, he was a hound, not a
"I think most people here
would tell you they run the hash as a means of
shedding stress," says Marz, who joined the New
Orleans group only weeks after it formed back in 1988
and has run weekly ever since. "There's a lot of
running groups that drink beer but there's not a lot
of running groups that go the places we go - places
where runners don't usually go.
"A lot of people will come
out and try this out for a night and decide it's not
their cup of tea and that's OK. But me, I first
hashed in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1973, and it was
love at first sight - running through rice fields,
yelling and laughing. It's a good way to thumb your
nose at society."
Marz was a facilities manager
for Freeport-MacMoran at the time he first joined the
Jakarta HHH. The original club was founded not for
The Hash House Harriers were
first formed by a group of British expatriates
stationed in what is now called Malaysia. It was
modeled after a fox-and-hounds-style chase, with the
hounds in this case chasing the hares and their
trails of paper.
The name comes from the hash
house where the original club members congregated.
There have been dozens of
international and local mutations over the years, but
the call-and-response ("On! On!" and other
cheers) and general methodology have remained intact:
A wide communication network open to anybody foolish
enough to join with lots of dirty songs, pornographic
nicknames and, yep. Beer.
There are more than 1,300
hashes (clubs) listed worldwide in at least 147
Hashers who travel from one
town to another usually can find a local group and if
there isn't one, they often start one. The New
Orleans chapter was started by the Houston club in
October 1988, after it realized its southern sister
city was without hashers.
And one thing leads to another.
There are about 150 active
members in the New Orleans club, all ages, all walks
of life. The club serves a purpose far beyond its
original mission, it seems.
"I got into it as an
alternative to the bar scene," says local Grand
Mistress Linda Crozier, a chemical sales
representative. "You can meet a lot of
interesting people out here."
Indeed. She met her husband in
the group and then, after a real wedding, was host of
a hash wedding in Audubon Park for which all the
"I had been in a number of
other social running clubs and I had heard about how
offensive these people were," says another local
hasher, a 42-year-old women who asked that her real
name no be used because she is a school teacher and
fears what her supervisors might make of her hasher
"And, in fact, they are
offensive," she continues. "Very
unprofessional, but it's a wonderful opportunity to
let your hair down, to laugh and sing and tell dirty
jokes. It is idiotic but fun."
"Although the poison ivy
is a drawback."
Ryun Mouton first hashed in
Okinawa, Japan, when he was in the Marines.
"It was a great way to
meet Japanese people and to see parts of Okinawa that
I likely would never have seen," Mouton said.
His hashing experiences there
included rappelling down a mountainside and crawling
through a tiny opening underneath a highway.
Mouton is a huge fan of
hashing, making road trips monthly to other cities
and other states for interhashes and other global
He's done dozens of hashes in
many places in many styles and, as an authority on
such matters, is able to distinguish the New Orleans
Hash House Harriers from most other groups around the
world. "More beer," he says.
Reproduced by Ryun
"Probing Sex Knave" Mouton, NOH3