The Wichita Eagle
February 8, 2000

White powder scare II: Runners swear off flour

After the second hazardous material scare in two months, members of the Hash House Harriers said Monday they may change their ways.

By Hurst Laviana
The Wichita Eagle

Members of a Wichita running club promised Monday to rethink their practices after their use of flour to mark a running path through downtown Wichita touched off an anthrax scare for the second time in less than two months.

Steve Clark, a member of the Hash House Harriers, said he and his fellow runners would consider changing the locations of their runs and the way they mark their trails after the scare Monday morning outside the Finney State Office Building.

"We are concerned about what happened," Clark said. "We are going to make some changes."

Clark said he didn't yet know how the group would alter its routine, but he said he wanted to ensure that the group doesn't cause any more hazardous materials scares.

The Hash House Harriers traditionally begin their runs by sending out two "hares" who get a 15-minute head start and use flour to mark a path the rest of the group must follow. Group members say flour is used because it is biodegradable.

Fire officials said that, to some people, the sight of white powder outside the State Office Building brings back memories of an August 1998 scare in which someone claimed to have infected the building with anthrax. That claim turned out to be false.

Wichita Fire Department Battalion Chief Rich Harris said Monday's scare occurred about 10:20 a.m. when someone called 911 to report a suspicious white substance on the sidewalk. Harris said the streets were closed for about an hour until fire officials confirmed the substance was flour. A nearly identical scare, caused by the same running group, occurred Dec. 17.

After the December scare, the Hash House Harriers promised to contact 911 dispatchers before making their runs. Clark said the runners failed to alert dispatchers before Sunday's run.

"Basically it was an oversight," he said. "Last night we just forgot." k their trails after the scare Monday morning outside the Finney State Office Building.

The Wichita Eagle

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