03.04.2011 The Hash
You may have heard of the Hash House Harriers. Or, like me, have no idea that they are the world’s largest sporting club. With no members. Eh? Well, it’s like this. Some guys (Brits in Malaysia I think) got to thinking that they wanted to be able to carry on their favourite sporting pastime, running, wherever they were in the world. So they set up a club called the Hash House Harriers. Except there is no clubhouse or official membership as such. The Hash, as they are affectionately referred to, meet all over the world, in practically every large city you can think of, on a Saturday afternoon at 3pm. And go running. Simple as that.
Except of course, there is a bit more to it, mostly involving beer. And while keen and able runners are catered for, so are the families and the slower amongst us, who go on the walking route instead. Earlier in the week, two intrepid hashers will map out a route for runners and a route for walkers, marking them out with shredded paper (biodegradable don’t you know). And the Yangon Hash meet at the Sailing Club every Saturday at 3pm, come rain, shine or unbearable heat.
To our astonishment there must have been about 50 people turn up on the Saturday that we went, including plenty of families. We duly paid our fee, about $4 each and hopped in various cars and drove to the start point, a residential area to the east of the city. One of the best things about the Hash, apart from the social aspect and the exercise, is that you get to see parts of the city and surrounding countryside that you would never usually see. So we had a lovely walk, through allotments and over railways and through a street selling nothing but chillies, big beautiful sacks groaning with various types of chilli peppers. Our finish point was right by a park where people were flying kites, not just for fun but actually kite fighting too, awesome to watch!
And then there was the beer. Everyone has to form a circle at the end, thank the route planners, beer providers etc and then nominate participants for various things (being late, getting lost, being rubbish at running etc) for which they have to down a beer of course. Hash virgins like us included! And children are not left out either, though they have to down lemonade instead, thankfully. Well, except where the child is even too small to drink lemonade, say like Alfie, so the parent has to step in and down more beer (at which point Pete pushed me forward. Thanks darling). Lots of singing accompanies this ritual and the hardcore all have Hash names too (think ridiculous nicknames). You can then also go on to a bar and carry on the drinking and even have an evening meal but after all this beer, we were certainly ready to go home.
It was a really fun afternoon, not too taxing and lovely to meet such a varied mix of people and nationalities. Everyone is welcome, whether resident or just passing through and some people had brought their visiting guests too. Some runners were superhardcore, having attended Hash events all over Asia (they often organise charity runs and cross country challenges) but a fair few were newbies like us. We’d love to go again but are finding the temperatures a bit off-putting at the moment. Still, I can highly recommend joining the Hash wherever you are!