Hash House Harriers and My New Love of Running
Warning: This post contains pictures most people would never want to see of me, and a few vulgarities.
If you asked me just six months ago if I liked to run, I would have said “Hell no!” I have hated running for as long as I can remember, aside from the bit of running required in the sports I played. Running in PE up until tenth grade was a requirement to receive an ‘A’ in the class, and running was occasionally required training for volleyball. Running was never something I would have chose to do, thus as I drank more and exercised less throughout college I became terrifically out of shape.
Now if you ask me if I like to run, I would say, “Why yes I do”. Furthermore, if you ask if I liked to run for beer, I would respond, “Hell yes! I love running for beer!” Not only has my opinion of running changed, but also I am in the best shape of my life; well at least since starting College. So what changed?
Well, on June 27, 2009 I was introduced to a running club by the name of the Hash House Harriers, or more specifically the Santa Barbara kennel, H3SoB, which is short for the Hash House Harriers of Sant’o Barbara. A quick read through the Wikipedia entry on the Hash House Harriers will inform you the club started in 1938, Kuala Lumpur by a guy named ‘G’ in which the runners would celebrate completing the run with beer. Thankfully that tradition continued on, and I am now part of it.
Let me tell you, I was initially skeptical about the idea of running and drinking. After all, it sounds kind of counterintuitive. However, after just one run, I knew this was something exactly for me. Before I started running with the Hash House Harriers I drink quite a bit on a weekly basis and I could hardly run. After just a few weeks running with the Hash House Harriers I drank about the same however could noticeably run much further distances without tiring. Now, after nearly 6 months of running I not only can run even further distances, but believe it or not, I actually drink less on a weekly basis. I’ve become more health conscious, and further more I gained the desire to wake up on a Saturday to simply go for a run, sans beer. Running with the Hash House Harriers has changed my life.
I want to give you a little more insight on this club I am now part of as aside from the beer aspect, we are not a run-of-the-mill running club. Those that have been to what we refer to as a hash run, or simply a hash, know we don’t usually stay on well-defined trails. Rather, we often run off trail through storm drains, or through what we like to call the “shiggy stuff” which usually means low brush, weeds, or for those who are not careful, poison oak. The three things nearly every run calls for are flashlights, vessels (cups), and virgins (first time hashers).
Additionally, despite having never been part of a normal running group I would wager we are much more vulgar and thus much more fun. For instance, when the virgin’s are initiated in the club, they are informed, “After consuming your drink, you must place your vessel over your head“, at which point everyone joins in for our “Head! Who said head? I’ll take some of that, and I did” chant which goes on to talk about uprooting trees and shrubs and flowers with viking horns on our head. Wait, who said head?
Furthermore, after a runner has been with us for a decent period of time they are awarded with a sufficiently vulgar and maybe not so relevant name. Those that brought me to the hash were named Pre Med Head, who is now in medical school, and Try This Tip who cuts meat. Some other names in our group are PokeHer, Spread Eagle, Maxlode, and Picassol. After my 8th, or so, run I was given the name Cunt Cockulust because I was slightly mistaken for liking calculus. Many people in the hash just call me The Count so I go around doing my impressions of The Count from Sesame Street which usually is, “I love to count, things. Ah ah ah ah.”
Finally, we fairly often run in themes such as the bikini run, the toga run and the miniskirt run. Of those, I’ve only taken place in the bikini run as pictured below. Additionally everyone dressed up for the Halloween run, which happened to be my Virgin Lay also known as the first time I hared, or led the run; I dressed up as Super Hare which is also pictured below. The hare(s) are those that leave the pack about fifteen minutes early and using chalk and flour mark the trail everyone else runs. Hares often leave what are called checks to deceive the runners into following a false trail if they don’t pick up the real trail.
I encourage you all to seek out your local Hash House Harrier kennel and get a first hand experience. If you need more convincing check out the Washington Post article titled, “Making a Hash of Exercise“. On-On!