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Hash Hound Harriers: A Tradition That Cures Hangovers?

The group bills themselves as a drinking club with a running problem.

I live in Fort Collins, Colo., where beer is a hobby that is often combined with sports. However I was surprised to learn that beer-focused running dated back to World War II.

The run: The Hash Hound Harriers. The year: 1938. A handful of British colonial officers in Malaysia banded together on a Monday evening (good for them) to run away their weekend hangovers. They named themselves the “Hash House Harriers” after a house most of them lived in.

During the war, the group was not as active, but started again in 1946. The clubs recorded their objectives in 1950. The goals were to remain fit, feel younger, get rid of hangovers and get thirsty enough to drink beer.

From there, Hashing chapters started forming all over the world. Today there are over 2,000 groups in existence.

What are compelling reasons to join? Well, there is beer. And…no, that’s all you need to know. There is beer.

What sets hashing apart?

Hare and Hounds style. The group has a designated “hare” who leads the chase. The hare takes a head start to make a trail. Then, the group of “hounds” sets off to chase them. If the hare is “caught,” that person becomes the new hare.

Trail Markings and Callings. Trails are typically marked with chalk, sawdust or flour. Newer variations in snow use colored water splashes. Fake trail detours allow stragglers to catch up. Shrieks from horns, whistles or shouts of “On-On” are heard from front runners when the correct trail is found. Trails can vary between out and backs, loops, and destination runs. No matter where you end up, drinking is involved.

Nicknames. Group members rarely go by their real name. Instead, everyone is given a “hash name” based on something epic, embarrassing or an attribute of their appearance. If a member complains about their names or attempts to name themselves, they are intentionally given simple and boring names such as “glasses.”

Tradition: Keeping up with old traditions is one of the many things that makes hashing so awesome. Some of these traditions include:

  • Group Shirts. Easily identified by the outline of a human footprint, it might also be accompanied by their phrase “on-on.”
  • Socks. Knee high socks to protect from any elements, such as water, mud, thorns, etc.
  • Themed Runs. Themed races are held annually to raise money for local charities. The most common is the Red Dress Run. In 1987, group member had a high school friend come for a visit. She came straight off of the plane to meet him, and without changing, she ran with them in her red dress and heels. The tradition stuck.

Next time your run feels monotonous and lonely, look up the nearest hashing event in your area or any socially based run. If you’re a beer enthusiast with a running problem, definitely add a hash event to your bucket list.

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