BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO HASHING
So what is this hashing malarkey?
A chosen person (Hare) sets a trail of sawdust. The runners (Hounds) then follow that sawdust trail. To make things more interesting, the hare will also mark circles of sawdust at certain junctions/forks along the trail. From the circle, the Hounds must decide which is the correct trail. Taking the wrong trail will end with a sawdust cross (Falsie), forcing the runner to go all the way back to the circle. In the meantime other runners will overtake those taking the incorrect trail.
You must have to be amazingly fit to do all that, yes?
Definitely not. You should see some of the people in our group. We are of very mixed abilities – all shapes and sizes, young and old, male and female. Anyone can hash.
I’m no Usain Bolt. Won’t I slow others down?
No. The great thing is the Falsies set along the trail mean the front runners do a lot of the hard work in taking the incorrect trails. That allows the back runners to catch up and generally we all end up finishing close together.
Where do you run?
We generally keep to the Surrey area although we occasionally pop over the border to West Sussex or Hampshire. Guildford would be our approximate base.
How long do you run for?
We aim to gently run for approximately one hour, or 5-6 miles.
Do you run whatever the weather conditions?
Yes. The weather has never stopped our weekly run.
Is there a prize for first place?
It’s not a race and we run for fun. So other than the glory, no.
So what happens afterwards?
Well as we generally run from or nearby to a pub, it would be rude not to have a look inside. So we get changed in the car park and then head to the pub for a drink or two. If someone is feeling generous then a few bowls of chips may appear too.
Ok. This running and drinking thing sounds alright. When do you run?
We run every Sunday, starting at 11am from a chosen venue, most of the time in Surrey.
Hold on, how much does all this cost?
What? But there’s no such thing as a free lunch these days.
That is true. Bowls of chips are normally a few quid in most pubs, but as far as our runs are concerned, they are totally free.
I bet there’s a 12 month contract or something. Do I have to commit to coming each week?
No. People are free to turn up to runs as and when they please. Obviously the more people that can make a hash, the more sociable it will be.
What about all the weird nicknames for people?
It’s just hashing tradition that we use hash names over real names. Great discussion is given to assigning a new runner with their hash name after their first run.
How do you choose who sets the trail?
We take it in turns on who is the chosen hare to set the trail and operate a rota.
Hashing is a great way to get fitter (although being able to jog is all the fitness you need), have fun, scratch your legs, make new friends, ruin your ankles, wear skin tight clothing and to get to know the countryside really well. However, hashers speak a language all of their own, which often seems like (and is) gibberish. Hashers speak a different language to normal people, and usually involves using the word ‘On’ a lot. If you consider yourself ‘normal’, here’s a guide to what hashers are saying and some attempt at interpretation:
Checkpoint – A circle of sawdust, normally positioned at a junction or fork along the trail. Runners must guess the correct route, and avoid taking the false trail.
False Trail – A path (or paths) leading from a check point which ends with a falsie. Any runner who finds a falsie will need to return back to the checkpoint, thus keeping the hash group together.
Falsie – An ‘X’ marked in sawdust signifies the end of a false trail.
Hare – A hasher responsible for laying the trail and taking the blame for it.
Hare Raiser – The committee member responsible for getting club members to lay trails. Must possess the right combination of charm, menace and cruelty. Most vital role to ensure the ongoing existence of any hash.
Hash – Used to refer to a hash club, or the hash run. Many people think hashers have something to do with drug running, but less excitingly, the term comes from the slang expression for a cheap meal. Difficult to find in South Devon
Hasher – Someone who goes on a hash run and is very gullible.
Hash House Harriers – A term originally coined by A S Gispert in 1937/8 for a group of friends who would go on a paper chase run together and then return to the Sengalor Club in Kuala Lumpur for a meal and a drink afterwards. The idea caught on and the Hash House Harriers are now the biggest club in the world with local chapters in virtually every country.
BEGINNER’S GUIDE FOR HARES
Right. It’s my turn to be the hare and set a trail. What do I do?
Surely that’s not a good idea.
Don’t call me Shirley.
Seriously. I’m as cool as a cucumber and just want to set a good trail. What do I need?
Alright, first make sure you get the sawdust bags from last week’s hare. If you’re lucky there may be enough sawdust for your run but it’s better to top up – the last thing you want is to run out whilst marking your trail. Either buy sawdust from a pet shop or find a local sawmill that might give it to you for free. Make sure your sawdust is not the same colour as the ground so it will be seen by your runners.
Can I use flour?
If you’re baking us a cake, perfect. For trail setting, it’s not the best. Dogs like eating it and it gets easily washed away in the rain.
How do I decide where to run from?
We generally set from a pub, although if you know of a car park somewhere and there’s a pub nearby, that’s ok. Stick to somewhere you know. You don’t have to know it perfectly but a general sense of direction helps, especially for your first run.
Do I need to ask the landlord for permission to use the pub car park?
That is entirely up to you. Generally for smaller car parks where space is at a premium, we’ll try and park nearby rather than in their car park. For larger car parks, we tend to park at the quieter end so there is no disruption for other customers. You might want to pop into the pub anyway to let them know you have some punters coming their way. They may be able to reserve some tables for you.
How do I work out where to take the runners?
You can’t beat a map for looking at all the available footpaths and bridleways. Start with the excellent online Surrey Interactive Map which has all Surrey OS maps stored digitally. You can zoom in/out of areas and there’s even a useful distance tool so you can measure your exact route. You can then print out your route. Otherwise buy yourself a local OS map – just make sure you check your area is on the one map as sometimes you may need to buy two maps.
Should I scout out my run in person too?
It’s advisable. A closed off footpath or a boggy bridleway may mean you need to change your route. By walking/running your route first, you’ll be able to prevent any last minute surprises.
Right. I’m all set. When do I need to set off?
A lot will depend on how many false trails (Falsies) you’ll set but people generally allow at least 3hrs to set the entire trail.
I’m going to cycle it. It’ll be so much quicker.
2 bags of sawdust, hills, field stiles, mud etc – the last thing you’ll want is a bike. Stick to two feet.
Alright, how should I lay the trail?
Just ensure you put down enough blobs of sawdust along your trail so people can follow them. There’s no set rule on distance apart. Set too close and you’ll run out of sawdust. Set too far apart and people may think they’ve lost the trail. Blobs should be put to the side of the path so walkers don’t accidentally vandalise your hard work. And bear in mind the light when leaving your blobs – ensure they can be seen in both bright sunlight and on a dark rainy day.
Could I just skip these Falsies?
Well you could but then you’d find your front runners would finish way ahead of the back runners. By setting plenty of Circles with Falsies, the front runners are likely to take more of the false routes and that gives the back runners time to catch up. In an ideal world, the pack of runners should all finish pretty much together.
Ok. Got it. Falsies I shall set. How do I set them?
Easy. When you come to a junction/fork along your trail, you can mark out a circle of sawdust which means the runners must decide which way is the correct route. You could be at a junction of footpaths in the woods, or a crossroads if you were setting in a town centre. Just make sure the circle is visible to runners approaching it. On your false trail(s), continue to drop blobs as though you were setting the correct trail except you end by marking a cross in sawdust.
And how long should the Falsies be off the Circles?
Ah, this is the beauty of hashing. You can lay the false trails as near or as far away from the sawdust circle as you like. They could be just round the corner, or they could be at the top of a nice steep hill. Just make sure your runners can’t see the Falsie from a distance otherwise they won’t take that route. Be too nice and your front runners will quickly get back to the Circle and discover the correct trail. Be too evil and you might end up tiring out your runners too much to enjoy their run. Be clever and you’ll keep the pack together.
How can I direct the runners in a particular direction?
Normally the spaced out sawdust blobs along a trail will be sufficient for people to follow. But say you get to a junction and didn’t want to set a Circle, you can always put two/three blobs next to each other to indicate which way the trail is bending. So at a junction in the woods where you want everyone to go left, you’d simply but a few blobs bending round to the left to signal which way the trail is heading.
Alright. Say I had enough energy left and I wanted to run my own run with the others. Is that allowed?
Of course it is. It would be hard work having been out already for a few hours but there’s nothing quite like seeing the runners take your own Falsies.
I’m going to be cunning and set it the day before. That means I’ll get a lie in.
Not so fast. Trails set the day before generally suffer from the sawdust blowing away or turning the same colour as the surroundings. So always set the day of the run.
Do you have any other social events?
Yes. We have several annual events.
Go on. Tease me.
Well we do a Summer BBQ run where we run and then eat & drink lots.
Sounds good. What else?
Well we do a Christmas run where we run and then eat & drink lots.
How much do these bashes cost?
Depends on numbers but it’s not very much. £10-£20 max. This should cover food and drink provided by our hosts, although sometimes we may ask people to bring a bit of stuff along too.
Yes. Lots of other impromptu get togethers. So come along and join us next Sunday.