Women's Sports and Fitness
May 1987, pp 70
By Jacqueline Cohen
I just completed a race
around the world! wrote a friend in a recent
letter mailed from her military post in Antarctica.
The course was in a two-mile area surrounding the
South Pole. It was one of the hundreds devised by the
Hash House Harriers (H3), a worldwide running
But you don't have to go to the
ends of the earth to join a hash, an off-beat race
for runners who like to have fun. There are 50 clubs
in the United States alone, as well as 520
organizations in 84 other countries.
cross-country has courses exist in suburban
developments and office parks, wilderness areas,
farms, and wineries. In Third World countries, trails
wind through rice fields, wheat fields, and farmers'
mud-hut villages. Elsewhere they may run through
department stores, over trolley lines, and around
temples. In Tokyo, within blocks of skyscrapers, they
run on quiet, tree-lined neighborhood streets.
Outside Taipei they traverse old Chinese cemeteries,
and in Moscow one crosses Red Square.
Here's how it works. Before the
run, a hare marks the trail with small
pieces of rice, flour, or shredded paper. When the
trail reached a checkpoint (the junction of two piles
together), it can go in more than one direction. The
hounds scatter in search of the right
trail, marked by one pike of rice.
Are you? shouts the
hare at the checkpoint.
Checking, reply the
Are you? urges the
On, on! exclaims
the excited hound who has found the correct trail.
The discovery may be heralded by trumpets, bugles,
flutes, and other noise-makers.
Most recreational pursuits
begin for pleasure and become serious. Hash began
with serious intentions and deteriorated into pure
pleasure. Exercise is only a small part of the
purpose; fun, fellowship, food, and refreshment are
the emphases. Physical conditioning helps, but is not
Has began in 1938 when an
Englishman stationed in Malaysia, A.S. Gispert, began
jogging on Monday nights to sweat off the excesses of
the preceding weekend. His run always ended with food
and beer at a small restaurant called The Hash House.
A few friends joined him, and the group began to
arrange running routes through the Malaysian
countryside. The Hash House's proprietor followed
them with refreshments. More friends joined, and the
run evolved into a variation of the British game of
Hare and Hounds.
Each club has its own special
atmosphere. Explains Sue Wickham, hash
cash (treasurer) of the Ventura, California H3;
We're called the `tea party hash because
we're tame. The runners bring their children
and spouses baby-sit, while older children may
accompany the runners.
In contrast, the Rumson, New
Jersey group calls itself the Hell's Angles of
Hashing, practicing the old down-down
tradition. This ritual initiates newcomers by
requiring them to quaff a mug of beer without
spilling a drop.
The Atlanta H3 club members are
fond of serving each other nicknames. Responsible
adults leading mundane lives during the week become
Rag Bag, Two Trip, Loophole, and Brewhilda on their
The Washington, D.C. Hash House
Harriets was started by a woman who was unwelcome in
the all-male Hash House Harriers. Originally a
women-only group, it is now 60 percent men, since the
members found that segregation didn't lend itself to
socialization, a major hash purpose. Now our
Grand Mistress is male, said former mistress
The social appeal engenders
near-fanaticism about weekly runs. Members may
postpone business meetings so as not to miss a run,
and they are known to plan trips to coincide with
hashes in other cities.
Major annual events entice
enthusiastic hares and hounds. Atlanta, Georgia is
still recovering from the Inter-Americas Hash of
1985. Pattya Beach, Thailand, hosted the World
Inter-Hash , March 28 to 31, 1986. In November 1985,
160 hashers from all over converged in Nepal to set a
record, the highest hash in the world.