One D.C. Race Is Not
Political: It's More Like a Running Joke
By ELIZABETH SEAY
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Washington in autumn: a
crispness in the air, trees changing color along the
Potomac -- and hundreds of men in red dresses running
up the Capitol steps.
Last Saturday the Hash House
Harriers held their fourth annual Red Dress Run, a
five-mile sprint through the nation's capital. The
group, which calls itself a drinking club with a
running problem, was founded in the 1930s by British
expatriates and now has chapters all over the world.
And once a year, the D.C.-area chapters put on a show
for everyone who thinks Washington's an uptight town.
All that was required on
Saturday was some sort of red outfit, but most
participants -- 470 in all, nearly 75% men -- went
further. The selections ran the gamut from a demure,
long-sleeved shift with white collar and cuffs to a
red bustier; a see-through negligee with a skimpy
lace bodysuit; a flouncy house dress in an African
print with matching headdress; and a long, slinky
number with black hat, pearls and long gloves.
Why red? Why not? "We do a
run where everybody dresses up like a
Dalmatian," says Don Kresal, a network analyst
in a pointy princess hat. "People kept asking
what we were marching for. Everyone in Washington has
to have a political point," said Tom Ball, a
6-foot-3 runner in a size 22 dress with fat white
beads, perfectly applied lipstick, and no particular
political point to make.
Mr. Ball, a lawyer at
Virginia's Hunton & Williams, had to shop around
for his dress. "Initially, I flattered myself
into thinking I was a 16," he said.
Eliot Daye, another runner,
said one of his friends had a dress altered for the
occasion. "Sometimes you can go too far,"
said Mr. Daye, who wore a cocktail dress with pearl
buttons and a blond wig.
The run followed a spotty trail
of flour that included some dead ends. It wended its
way toward the Mall, up the Capitol steps, down
around the Washington monument and behind the White
Inevitably, the runners drew
crowds. A singer at a street festival stopped and
yelled, "Hey, what's with the red?" Three
teenage boys collapsed on the Mall grass in giggles.
A woman called, "Nice hat."
Later, at a bar, runners began
taking off torn, sweaty dresses. "We're just
everyday professional people who want to get out, put
on a red dress and run," said Mr. Kresal.
"Then everything's back to normal Monday