“Meet up with me next Tuesday night, under the bridge near The Narrows in Perth, just before dusk. Bring Cash.” She said to me.
It was all a bit furtive and sounded like a ransom demand! Instead of being robbed, I had a great social evening out. A friend had invited me along to a fundraising multi-group Hash House Harriers (HHH or H3) evening. But, I don’t run! I barely ever even run late.
Whilst HHH are non-competitive running groups, you can also walk, cycle, ski (SKASH), snorkel or kayak depending on the group. There are over 2000 chapters in most countries around the world. Meeting either weekly or monthly, each group will host a Hash (also called a run). One person (called the Hare) sets a trail, which the group (called The Pack, or Hounds) then follow either running, walking or cycling, depending on the group you are in. After the run, the group socialise together. Mostly the Hare will provide food, and there is often drinking involved after the run.
The night I attended was a multi-group night with around 200 people in attendance. A $20 donation was required to cover the cost of dinner, and the proceeds were donated to the charity Lifelife. Most clubs hold annual fund raisers for local charities.
Most of the people I spoke to that evening told the same story. They felt like family with their fellow Hashers and the prime motivation was to have fun and enjoy being outdoor with other like-minded friends. There was such a great vibe being among these happy people.
Hashing started in 1938 in what is now Malaysia. A group of 7 Military officers and expats started meeting on Monday evenings to run and “to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend”. They named themselves after the Senangor Club where several of them lived and dined, and which was nicknamed the “Hash House” as its food was said to be inedible. “Hash” means bad food in British slang.
The objectives of the Hash House Harriers as recorded on the club registration card dated 1950:
To promote physical fitness among our members
To get rid of weekend hangovers
To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel
Little has changed since 1950.
There are groups solely for men, but also Harriettes, which are solely women, and then there are mixed groups. They describe themselves as drinkers with a running problem and it seems the only requirement is that you are social and ready to mix in and have fun. Well, that seems great to me, except for the running part, I will opt for a walking group.
Hash events are open to the public, with a small donation to be made, called Hash Cash. This covers costs incurred in food and drink. Different clubs provide different amenities so the amount can vary.
There have been many traditions built up in Hash during the years, and one of them is that everyone gets a Hash Name. The use of your actual name is discouraged during events, and your Hash Name can be created if you do something outrageous or unusual. It is all in good fun. Names can vary from Fartin Sphincter and Earache, to milder ones such as Elvis, Sarge and Bushranger. Feel free to ask any of the Hashers how they got their name. Each name has a curious and entertaining backstory. That is part of the fun of this group, it is the sense of being a part of something bigger than yourself. They are very welcoming and happy to have new members.
As Hash is global, every two years a large convention is held in a different country each time, with sometimes over 5000 people gathering together. If you are a member of HHH and traveling, all you need to do is contact a Hash group along the way and you can meet up with fellow Hashers. It is a great way to get to know local people and the local areas, and adds to be a traveler rather than a tourist.