HASHING was started by a group of British expatriates in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938. Originally a Monday cross-country run to sober up after the weekend’s partying, the group would fetch up at a restaurant/bar nicknamed the “Hash House” where they could immediately resume partying. Hashing is loosely based on the English schoolboy game known as “Hare and Hounds.” A hash is a non-competitive cross-country run set by one or more runners called hares. The hares set a course marked by white flour, toilet paper, chalk marks, whatever, through all kinds of terrain. The rest of the hash the pack (of hounds) follows the trail to glory and beer. A really good course gets the slowest hashers to the On-In (finish) first, and leaves the FRB’s (front-running bastards) stuck in shiggy (brambles, quicksand, police custody, etc.) until the beer runs out at the on-in. (post-run observance).
Strictly speaking, there are no rules, but the H5ers follow these fairly typical hashing conventions:
Hashers gather at the stated location and time (more or less), dressed in clothes suitable for running or exploring sewers. The hasher serving as Hash Cash collects $ from each participant to cover costs of the apres (first timers are free). Dry bags containing change of clothes are entrusted to the hares to be taken to the On-In. After some standing around and socializing, the hares explain the trail marks (see below) to any new-boots (first-timers) and then the pack starts looking for trail.
The trail is marked with hashmarks, usually splashes of flour. Hashers signal they are on trail by calling out “On-On!” when they see hashmarks. Horn, whistles and other noisemakers are also encouraged. (Befuddled passers-by gape or call the police; the occasional knowledgeable onlooker will shout “On-On, you worthless scum!”) Hounds asking “RU?” (are you on trail?) on trail should be answered “On-On!” by the FRB’s
Several other standard trail marks:
- An arrow indicates true trail direction. A hare using arrows to indicate a false trail may be subjected to severe abuse at the apres. Leading hounds may use arrows to indicate true trail for hounds further back in the pack.
- A check (large X, or 3 dots in a triangle) indicates that trail goes two or more directions and the pack must determine which is true trail. Hounds should call out “Checking!” or “On One, …On Two” (whatever number of hashmarks they find after the check) when checking a trail.
- A false (large F or 3 dots in a line across the trail) indicates the trail is false. Yell “False” to those following you and return to the last check to find true trail. A hound may alter the check to identify true trail direction for the rest of the pack. Honest and kind hares always terminate false trails of more than 3 marks with an F. Evil and vicious hares sometimes omit the F and just let the pack flounder in the wilderness until they figure it out for themselves.
- A check-back, a variation of a false, is marked with a check mark followed by a number. For example, a “check 25” means to backtrack 25 marks, then look for true trail. Note that hares don’t necessarily count marks accurately, particularly if they have been into the pre-hash beer.
- A beer-near (BN) mark indicates a beer check (opportunity for mid-trail rehydration) is near.
- Some trails may split into long (Eagle) and short (Turkey) finishing sections to the On-In, so that FRB’s can do more trail time and maybe die while decent beer-loving hashers get to the keg sooner; the hares will explain (maybe truthfully) extra trail features such as these at the start.
The on-after/apres provides the rehydration and nutrition critical to the post-exercise recovery of finely conditioned athletes. The hash RA- (“Religious Advisor” or “resident asshole”) presides over the Circle, where all of the stupid antics of the day are related to the whole pack and down-downs (non-stop downing of beer while the hash serenades you; whatever you can’t drink in one try you dump on your head) are awarded for the hares, first in, last in, visitors, virgins, and other significant occasions, e.g. hasher’s birthday or vasectomy..etc.
Non-drinkers called on for down-downs can opt for soda or water. Down-downs may also be ordered for hash violations such as non-returners (missing too many hashes), hashing in new shoes, Type A (wearing road-race apparel, or trying to resemble a real runner in any way), or for any other accusations that the pack invents.
Hashers are recognized to speak by the RA by holding a beer or a fist on top of one’s head but should otherwise remain silent. Fifth time hashers (unless you do something exceptionally stupid on an earlier run) are given tasteful new nicknames like “Not DeTurd”, “In the Rear”, or something equally as flattering.
Harrisburg-Hershey Hash House Harriers hash every other Saturday, Most Wednesdays and Full Moon, rain or shine, hot or cold.
Bring a change of clothes and wear clothes and running shoes you’re willing to get muddy (NOT new shoes). For more H5 antics outside of the normal runs, Subscribe to the H5 hash e-mail.