The Winona Post
April 14, 1999

The Heritage of a Hash Run


The Winona Post
Winona, Minnesota
April 14, 1999
Pg 5A
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 hashish.

The hash run is dipped deep in history and meaning.

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 finish.

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 hound.

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 deer hunters.

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 riverboat.

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 InterneL

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 recliner.

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 hunting.

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 Butter.

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 Dorchester, lowa.

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 elusive hare.

"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 LaCrosse.

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 all ages."

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