From the recent viral beer mile video, announcement of the Beer Mile World Championships, and Annapolis Beer Week’s Beer Run, you might think beer and running are coming together in some kind of new trend. But beer and running have gone hand in hand for probably as long as beer has existed. But it’s not all beer miles and running/beer fests. There are several options around Annapolis to mix pounding the pavement and a well-earned brew. Hashing is one of those options. I mentioned hashing in the last running and beer post, but hashing is one of those things that really deserves more than a brief mention, and really deserves to be experienced in person rather than through these words.
Hash House Harriers
Hashing is one of those things that are everywhere but almost no one has heard about. Some hashers bill themselves as a drinking club with a running problem, but it’s more accurate to describe the Hash House Harriers (H3) as a running/walking co-ed fraternity, and it’s probably the largest running club in the entire world.
Hashing is a little different wherever you go but the basic premise is the same. Get a group of people together (usually more than 20, sometimes several hundred), designate one or more as the “hare,” and everyone else as “the hounds.” Give the hare a 5-10 minute head start and they will lay a trail, usually made of flour or toilet paper, from the start to the end where all the beer and snacks await the pack of hounds. The hounds try to catch the hare and find the beer.
While laying trail the hare has three main jobs:
- (MOST IMPORTANTLY) Get everyone to the beer at the end of the trail. When you show up to the hash the only things you know are when/where the trail starts, and that you’re going to have a great time. The hounds don’t know where the trail goes or where it ends.
- Keep the pack as close together as possible. Not everyone is a runner. In fact, many hashers prefer to walk the trail. This also isn’t a race. A good hare will lay a trail that confuses the faster runners allowing the slower runners and walkers a chance to catch up and reach the end of the trail together. This is about camaraderie and fun. In fact, you’ll get called out at the end for “racist behavior” if you try to make it a race.
- Don’t get caught by the hounds. The penalty for getting caught changes from kennel to kennel (that’s right, a hashing club is called a kennel), but it’s just not much fun for the hounds if they catch the hare easily.
The trail at a hash can go absolutely anywhere. Roads, dirt paths, fields, rivers, parking lots, tunnels, lakes, bridges, forests, waterfalls, jungles, and swamps are all fair game. Some kennels are more urban and stick entirely to pavement, while others pride themselves on blazing new trails into the wilderness with all its briars, mud, and muck (known as “shiggy”).
At the end of this ordeal the group shares a few beers, sings a few adult only songs, and recaps the day’s events in “circle.” Like any fraternity there is a bit of ritual and tradition, but it’s all tongue-in-cheek because the hash never takes itself seriously. Some hashes do offer up some tasty craft beers, but generally you’re not there to savor the best beer in the world. You’re drinking to quench your thirst after a tough trail and to hang out with your Hash Family, and it really can feel like family.
Hashing is literally all over the world. Almost any city across the globe has one or more local hashes. Look them up when you’re travelling and they’ll welcome you with open arms. I’ve hashed the jungles of Guam, crossing rivers and climbing up waterfalls. Casey and I have hashed through Civil War era tunnels underneath the city of Macon, Georgia. We’ve hashed in the mountains of Switzerland, the streets of Munich (at Oktoberfest no less!), the outskirts of Dublin, the towns of Okinawa, and the desert sands of Qatar. Every kennel we’ve visited while travelling has welcomed us with food, drink, and a place to stay. We’ve met locals and seen parts of cities we never would have known if not for the hash.
Locally there are over half a dozen kennels in DC, while closer to Naptown is the Baltimore Annapolis Hash House Harriers (BAH3). BAH3 meets every Sunday at 3pm and their website is the best way to find out the starting location of the next trail. Take the time to check them out. Hashing probably isn’t for everyone, but everyone is welcome. It’s not a race, it isn’t competitive, and it’s all about fun and camaraderie that accidentally has an element of fitness. If you like beer, and have a sense of humor at all, then you’ll have a great time.