Teresa is a great, great, friend. She’s been one of my biggest running cheerleaders, going so far as to meet me at the end of long runs and keep me company and promising to cheer me on at the Marine Corps Marathon.
So when she started talking about hashing, I paid attention. And mostly what I noticed was that it sounded…odd. Hares? Weird marks with flour and chalk? Following a trail through heaven-knows-what kind of terrain? Sure. Okay. Whatever.
But Congress is out of session and I don’t have to work late on weeknights, so I promised I would venture out for my first hash this week. (I read up on it on Wikipedia, and the description of hashers as ‘drinkers with a running problem’ went a long way toward convincing me that I’d probably like it.)
Well, I followed through. It’s what you do for friends, after all. And it was odd. But it was also really fun.
Teresa hashes on Tuesday nights with the So Happy It’s Tuesday Hash House Harriers. And this particular week, she was haring (laying the trail for others to follow) for the first time. So she put me in care of a friend of hers and left me there, to discover what happens to you as a hashing virgin…
Fortunately, she had prepared me for most of what happens. There’s questions and a mild bit of hazing, but nothing especially bad. There are dirty songs, too. It was all in good fun. There was a brief introduction to the various symbols used on a hash. I don’t remember any of them, but there’s a good sampling here.
And then it was time to follow the trail! (No smartphones are allowed out when hashing, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. Hashing has a lot of rules.)
I’m definitely not the person to tell you what, exactly, happened on the trail. We followed signs. There was a lot of call-and-response happening. I ran some, walked some, waded through a river some, and swiped at a lot of spiders with a stick. I also got scratched by a lot of thorns and because my little group didn’t quite follow the trail correctly (we were supposed to be in the riverbed, not on the riverbank,) it was full dark by the time we got to the beer check. One of the hares was picking up the beer, so I (and my caretaker) hopped in the car and drove back to the start. There wasn’t too much distance left, but it was dark and I’m not used to trail running. I really didn’t want to twist an ankle on my first time out.
After the hash, there are more drinking songs and more minor hazing for all concerned. And beer, of course. Always beer. (There is also water, food and Diet Coke.)
Overall, I really enjoyed it. It was a pretty decent workout and I liked getting out into the woods for awhile. Even with the spiders and the thorns. I’ll probably go again – maybe next week – before work starts to get crazy again.