The Winona Post
April 14, 1999
by Steve Kiedrowski
The heritage of a hash run
I was out for my nightly walk one evening and
there was a blue moon in the shaded sky, as a warm
wind was blowing. Just a perfect night for a hike.
Suddenly, I saw about 30 people gathered together
at Central Park in Trempealeau. As I strolled by, a
friend, John Ebersold, said, "Hey, Steve, want
to join us for a hash run?" I thought to myself,
is this legal?! Well, I found out that it is: and
it's not what you think.
The word hash is a British referral to food, not
The hash run is dipped deep in history and
In the early 1800's a group of British rugby
players were looking, for a way to stay in shape and
beat their bouts with boredom. They called their new
game hounds and hares. Two hares or runners would
have a ten minute head start and leave a trail behind
of bits of paper for the hounds, or the other
runners, to find. But, there are social stops along
the way. The hares may halt at a local pub for some
refreshment. When the hounds get there, they all join
in together. Then, the hares get ] another ten minute
jump and the race continues. Only the hares know
where they are going and where the final destination
is, the hounds must find them before they reach the
In 1938 the name was changed to the Hash House
Harriers by a group of British servicemen stationed
in Malaysia. They didn't care for the kind of food
they were I served in the mess hall so the term I
hash house was born and a harrier is a small hunting
Stan Hovell, originally from rural Trempealeau, is
the Grand Master of the group in this area.
"You don't have to be a runner to be in the
Hash House Harriers. Some people just walk or they
take their dogs along and enjoy the sights. Some even
gather berries ~ and pick up trash as they chase the
hare," said thc 31-year old Hovell.
There are Hash House Harrier clubs all over thc
world. The runners from thc Trempealeau and
Galesville area officially are named the LaCrosse
Hash House Harriers. They have over 100 members.
That night in Trempealeau at Central Park, the two
hares were carrying white flour, instead of bits of
paper for clues -- more environmentally friendly.
The harriers must gather together and stand still
in & small boxed area marked with flour. After
ten minutes, the harriers are off on the chase, some
running, some walking, some just sauntering. In the
winter, the flour is dyed red or blue!
The organization meets every third Saturday
afternoon and on the odd month full moon, except in
November, when thc runs are on the second Saturday,
due to the deer gun season. Many of the runners are
On April 17, it will be the first anniversary of
their chapter of the Hash House Harriers. They will
celebrate with a run along the bluffs southeast of
LaCrosse followed by a party on the LaCrosse Queen
The ages of the members range from 18 to 73 years
old. They have had guest runners join them from
Winona, the Twin Cities, Chicago, Green Bay, Madison,
Denver and Oregon.
The group has its own web site, www.gthhh.com.
Many people learn and hear about their club on the
One member, Dan Hendcrson, 31, of rural
Galesville, is the religious advisor. "That
means I'm in charge of the songs," he said.
At the end of thc run, everybody unites and sings
old rugby or hash songs.
That night of the blue moon in Trempealeau, thc
harriers found the hare only one block from my house.
I could hear them singing from my living room
Thc victor is thc first harrier to find the hare.
The hare must then pull his pants down in defeat. The
win for the harrier is a mixed victory, who on the
next run must wear a heavy link chain around the neck
to slow him down, because he ran too fast. The group
stresses teamwork on tracking, not individual
When you join the club you are given a nickname,
along with a military dog tag with your new name on
it -- names like Dew Dew, Community Scrvice and Lung
At every run, members chip in $5.OO each to pay
for food and beverages. In the future they plan on
having runs to raise money for local charities.
Their hash runs can be located anywhere -- Hokah,
LaCrcscent, LaCrosse, Trcmpealeau, Galesville, even
With the clues of white flour dropped along the
trail, the scent of the hare can sometimes be
confusing. The two hares can crisscross their
markings, leave false trails and even split up.
But there is fun, food and liquid served up along
the way by volunteers who carry the goods in their
cars. They are told ahead of time by the hares where
they are going and where the finish line is. Two of
those helpcrs are Stan Hovell's parents, Clyde and
Barb Hovell of rural Trempealeau.
Stan's sister, Lu Ebersold and her husband, John,
of Trempealeau also join in the run, looking for the
"It gets in your blood. Sometimes you have to
go into the deep woods and you get all cut up, but I
like doing it," said Lu.
John Ebersold said, "You meet a lot of
different people and its fun looking for the trails
of the hare."
This summer the Hash House Harriers plan a Dirty
Dozen Festival Run, running in 12 different community
festivals in the Coulee region.
They also have a Red Dress Run on Labor Day. All
of the members model red dresses as they run after
the hare. The dress signifies mothers in labor for
their children, on the Labor Day run.
"We got some strange looks on that one,"
said Stan HoYell.
Hovell is a 14-year veteran in the Navy and
attends Viterbo College in LaCrosse under the
Officers Commission Program. He currently lives in
There is even a little danger involved. Last
summer, on June 27, the Hash House Harriers were out
running in Galesville. That was the same night as one
of the biggest storms that ever hit the area. 100
mile per hour straight line winds were blowing trees
down all around them. Several runners got lost up in
the apple orchards, including Dan Henderson.
"That was one scary night," he said.
Says Stan Hovel1, "The Hash House Harriers
appeal to everyone, not just athletes, and it's for