The Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary provides the following definitions, which seems like a good place to start:
[hásh haus] (plural hash house·es) noun (1869)
1. an inexpensive eating place
Harriers [har-E-erz] noun (1542)
1. any of a breed of hunting dogs resembling a small foxhound and orig. bred for hunting rabbit
2. a runner on a cross-country team
Basically hashing is a form of non-competitive cross-country running with the main objective of working up a decent thirst. Great emphasis is placed on the social aspects – particularly the communal boozing session at the aprés-hash. It’s a fun activity and not be taken at all seriously.
ARE YOU A VIRGIN?
If you have half a mind to join the Hash, that’s all it takes. If you have hashed before you will know the format but for the newcomers here’s a quick rundown on what happens.
The Hash generally meets at a pub chosen by the HARES and the HOUNDS set off at the appointed hour along a clearly defined trail (blobs of chalk or sawdust) with the front runners calling “ON, ON” for the benefit of the slower runners and latecomers catching up. Every 500 metres or so the trail will end signified by a check mark which may be in the form of a line or a circle – ask the hare before you set out. The frontrunners on reaching the check start searching for the new trail.. This can start up to 50 metres from the check in any direction. The time taken by the frontrunners to find the new trail allows the runners at the back (the “social or chat-pack”) to catch up thus increasing the chances of everyone reaching the the pub at the end at roughly the same time. The frontrunners will usually find that the cunning hares have laid some FALSE TRAILs in addition to the the real trail – these falsies usually consist of up to 3 blobs followed by an X or a T (again ask!). This ensures that the really fit types, known as FRBs (Front Running Bastards) will become exhausted more quickly and be forced to join the social pack. Another device used by Hares to achieve the same objective is the LOOP whereby the trail might go round 3 sides of a field allowing the back markers to run across the fourth.
Hash runs are usually 7 to 10 Km long and are designed to last 1 – 1½ hours. Revelries in the pub after the run are up to the individual but it has been known for some muddy sweaty hashers to be turned out of the pub at closing time…
The Hash House Harriers is a decentralized organization with each chapter (sometimes called a Kennel) individually managed with no uniting organizational hierarchy (although the locations of national and international gatherings are decided by a meeting involving representatives from a number of hashes). A kennel’s management is typically known as the MisManagement and consists of individuals with various duties and titles. There are more than 1,700 kennels spanning all seven continents. Most major cities are home to at least one chapter. Kennels typically contain 20-100 members, usually mixed-sex and some metropolitan area Hashes can draw more than 1,000 hashers to an event.
A BRIEF STORY
To begin at the beginning, as they say in all the best yarns, one should go back to 1938 in Kuala Lumpur in what is now Malaysia when a group of ex-patriates associated with the rubber plantations started a modified paper chase in order to work up a decent thirst before retiring to the Selangor Club. There the restaurant was known locally as the “Hash House” so naturally the name was adopted by the harriers and in contrast to other groups undertaking similar activities the name stuck. The particular genius of the founding father, A S Gispert, nicknamed “G”, was to make the traditional hare & hounds running more fun by making it non-competitive. But you knew all that really, didn’t you?
The Original Hash House (Kuala Lumpur) Circa 1938
So we will move on quickly to the Second World War and its aftermath which became known as the Malayan Emergency when British and Australian troops joined in the fun and when posted elsewhere began new chapters and the Hash House Harriers spread throughout the world rather like the AIDS virus spread from a central origin in Africa. You knew that, too? Well, perhaps not the fact th at Hashing is an affliction akin to AIDS but how’s this for exponential growth:
1938Kuala Lumpur H3 (Mother Hash) founded
1947Royal Bordighera H3 founded – first known offshoot, ceased early 1960s
1962Singapore H3 founded
1967Dhekelia H3 – second hash in Europe, after RBH3 above.
1967Sydney H3 – first Hash in Australia
1971Fort Eustis H3 – first Hash in the North America
1969Commando Forces H3 founded – first Hash in UK
1971Westcombe Park H3 founded – oldest monthly running Hash in UK
1973KL H3 1500th run – 35 other Hashes “known” to exist
1974Bicester H3 founded – oldest weekly running Hash in UK
1975Surrey H3 founded
1976London H3 founded
197790 Hashes known in 35 countries
1984Harrier International founded
1986555 Hashes known in 85 countries
1988700 Hashes known in 125 countries
20001570 Active Hashes known in 184 countries with 200,000 hashers
Both servicemen and diplomats have been largely responsible for the contagion spreading and indeed the first known recorded hash in the UK was the Commando Forces H3 based at Plymouth founded in 1969 by the then Col Ray Thornton (ex-JM of Singapore H3) which flourished in the early seventies but like many military hashes petered out when postings decimated the membership Ray went on to found Bicester, Donnington and Looe & Liskeard which survived by becoming predominantly civilian hashes.
Here are a few suggestions and explanations which may help a newcomer to enjoy the Hash but first and foremost please bear in mind that hashing is supposed to be fun and don’t ever take it seriously:
Hashing is totally non-competitive although someone has to be first. If by some fluke you manage to find yourself in this unfortunate position (or anywhere near it ), yell “ON, ON” until you are exhausted enough to fall back to your rightful place in the pack. These calls are not designed to help you but the poor unfortunate at the rear who can then shortcut (HASH TACTICAL) back to the pack. The sounding of the HASH HORN achieves the same aim for all but the stone deaf.
If it is your misfortune to arrive first at a check, don’t sit down and rest, or stand about like a wet weed, but look for the new trail and shout “CHECKING” loud and often. If you find an X or a T, announce “FALSE TRAIL” equally loudly.
The “social pack” retains its superiority by the deployment of its greater intelligence. Short cutting from the rear (HASH TACTICALS) is to be positively encouraged and a united pack is far better for warding off homicidal landowners and rabid Rottweilers as well as forcing the publican’s arm if you arrive back at the pub early.
Short cutting from the front is NOT ALLOWED (one of the very few firm rules of hashing – actually there are no rules!). Anyway this practice could result in the whole Hash straying on to uncleared land.
Move at your own pace. Ignore the FRBs and Jockstraps who urge you to go faster. If you should fall behind, try a HASH TACTICAL. If your tactic is successful you may be accused by a jealous FRB of being an SCB – a SHORT CUTTING BASTARD. If so, just ignore it; such accusations merely confirm your superior abilities.
Always try to keep at least one hasher between you and anything which looks at all fierce such as bulls, pitbull terriers, landed gentry, geese and pigs.
If you hear the cry “LOOKING” it means that the trail has disappeared into thin air. This could be due to several reasons: the Hares playing silly Bs or simply running out of chalk, the trail being washed out by rain or an attack of chalk blindness by the front runners. Usually in this event the pack will spread out and the trail is soon located.
If you wish to know what the hell is going on up front, call “HOW ARE YOU?” which should evoke the response “CHECKING”, “FALSE TRAIL”, “OFF CHALK” or even “LOST”.
Please don’t shout too loud near animals. They don’t like it. If cows, horses or sheep appear to about to stampede, WALK, don’t run. An insurance claim for an animal like Desert Orchid could bankrupt the Hash insurance company let alone the Hash. Yes, your Hash may carry insurance but remember it’s for third party damages, not a personal accident policy for you.
If you damage fences or gates, try to effect some sort of repair before running on and, most important of all, NEVER LEAVE GATES OPEN.
Transgressions of this and any other “crime” committed during the hash will be drawn to the attention of the Hash RELIGIOUS ADVISOR who will mete out some dire punishment at the Aprés-Hash. You may also be asked to do a WRITE UP of the run (for publication in the Hash Trash). If so, please oblige – it helps everyone to remember where they’ve been and what they did but it doesn’t have to be accurate – let your creative imagination roam free!
IN ADVANCE OF ANY HASH RUN OR HASHING EVENT, EACH PARTICIPANT IS EXPECTED TO HAVE READ AND AGREED TO THE TERMS OF THE WAIVER AGREEMENT BELOW:
Participating in hashing and hashing events is a potentially hazardous activity that could result in injury or death. I am participating in this event at my own risk and I assume all risk and responsibility for injuries I may incur as a direct or indirect result of my participating in this event. Having read this Release and knowing the risks involved in my participation in this event, I, for myself and anyone entitled to act on my behalf, waive and release the BEIJING HASH HOUSE HARRIERS, its sponsors, representatives, officers and management from all claims or liabilities of any kind arising out of my participation in this event, even though that liability may arise out of negligence or carelessness on the part of the persons named in this Release. Further, I agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless the BEIJING HASH HOUSE HARRIERS, its sponsors, representatives, officers and management from any and all claims which may result from my participation in this event. I certify I have read this Release and Agreement to Indemnify, I understand it, and I agree to its terms relating to every BEIJING HASH HOUSE HARRIERS event or activity.