The HASH HOUSE HARRIERS was registered as such in 1938 in
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. This original chapter is also
commonly known as the MOTHER HASH. It is now an
international non-competitive running and social club, with
chapters all over the world.
The philosophy as stated in the OBJECTS CLAUSE OF THE
CONSTITUTION is as follows:
To promote physical
fitness among our members
To get rid of
To acquire a good
thirst and to satisfy it in beer
To persuade the
older members that they are not as old as they feel
To date, this is religiously followed !!!
The template for a hash run is loosely based on the paper
chase and known in the club as hare hunting. One or more
hashers (the "hares") lay out a running trail, that the rest
of the club (pack or 'hounds') follows. The trail may
include false trails (check-backs), short cuts (or splits),
breaks, and checks (a marking on the trail that requires the
pack to search the area to discover the connection of the
trail. These features are designed to keep the pack together
regardless of fitness levels or running speed. This is
followed by a circle where the hares are assessed and
rewarded with a drink, recalcitrant members are brought up
and punished with a drink and announce ments made, all in
GENERALLY SPEAKING ....
The organization of the Hash House Harriers is
decentralized, with each chapter (also called kennels)
locally managed and with no higher-level organizational
hierarchy or central controlling organisation There are more
than 1700 kennels with at least one Hash in most major
cities in the world. Yet, rules and practices are mostly
similar. Local, regional and international events can be
organised and held in large numbers.
Herein lies the uniqueness of the Hash. A worldwide
camaraderie of hashers with no formal structure, getting
together for a common purpose.
Hashers frequently describe themselves as 'a drinking club
with a running problem', and the social element of hashing
is of equal importance to the running. The seriousness of
the running and of the drinking varies with each Kennel.
Some Kennels focus on running while other focus on drinking.
The length and difficulty of runs varies accordingly between
Practices also vary from chapter to chapter, country to
country. What follows is true for most chapters.
Several regional directories or international directories
have been published with Hash Contact information, although
the Internet has become the primary source of hashing
Each chapter has its members who pay a subscription. This
includes the drinks after the runs and other freebies given
occasionally. But generally no membership or reservation is
required to join a group and being a guest is welcome, for a
fee. Typically all that is needed is to find out the time
and location of the start; either by emailing a current
member, viewing the group website, calling the information
phone line if available, and just showing up. Most groups
conduct a "chalk talk" where introductions are made and the
system of hash marks is explained to new hashers and
visiting hashers who may be used to a different system of
marking. The exception to this would be special events, such
as camp out, pub crawls, etc., that require significant
pre-planning of food and beverages, however even then
walk-ins are generally welcome.
Chapters usually run weekly, but many run monthly. There are
numerous celebration runs to commemorate various events.
These could be local to the chapter such as a run with a
uniques number, 111 or 1000 or such and festive runs. The
special events could be a national hash, Nash Hash, or
regional hash events.
Every two years, an international meet is organised,
referred to as the InterHash. Members at one will vote for
the next location and so on. Attendance recently has been
The traditional symbol of the hash is the outline of the
foot, with often the words "On-On" written upon it.
A. S. Gispert
Hashing began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1938, when a
casual group of British colonial officials and expatriates,
Cecil Lee, Frederick "Horse" Thomson, Ronald "Torch"
Bennett, and a British accountant of Catalan descent Albert
Stephen Ignatius Gispert (A. S. Gispert) would meet after
work on Monday evenings to run, following a paper trail,
through the environs of Kuala Lumpur to get rid of the
excesses of the previous weekend. There was another member
of the group, John Woodrow, who is rarely credited as one of
the founders as he left Malaysia after the war to return
home to his family in Scotland.
Sometime late in 1938, 9 Harriers were in the Hash House and
it was proposed a formal name be adopted.
G came up with the
name. This was stated by Cecil in the interview. He said it
was a jocular allusion to the Mess (bachelor’s hostel) they
lived and it was alliterative (words with a rhythm).
As bachelors, they were billeted in the Selangor Club Annex,
known locally as the Hash House, because of its monotonous
food (hash, being an old army slang for food). What better
name than the location that they were in.
Their runs were patterned after the traditional British
paper chase. A hare was given a head start to blaze a trail,
marking his devious way with shreds of paper, all the while
pursued by a shouting pack of "harriers." Only the hare knew
where he was going...the harriers followed his clues to stay
on trail. Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and
solving the clues, reaching the end was its own reward...for
there these thirsty harriers would find a tub of iced beer
(and, in those earlier, more forgiving days, ginger beer and
Hashing died out during World War II after the Japanese
invasion of Malaysia, but started again shortly after the
war, when the original protagonists, minus "G" who had been
killed in the Japanese invasion of Singapore, re-assembled
in Kuala Lumpur. Apart from a "one off" chapter, formed in
the Italian Riviera, (now the Royal Milan and Bordighera
Hash), hashing didn't take off until 1962, when Ian Cumming
founded the 2nd kennel in Singapore. From then on, the
phenomenon started to grow, spreading through the Far East,
Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Europe and North
America. Hashing experienced a large growth in popularity
during the mid-1970s.
By the end of the 20th century, there were thousands of Hash
House Harrier clubs in all parts of the world, with
newsletters, directories, and even regional and world
hashing conventions. This boom is owed largely to the power
of the Internet to provide timely and accurate information
on kennels and their events and points of contact. As of
2003, there are even two organized HHH groups in Antarctica.
Credit must be given to William "Tumbling Bill" Panton for
having started and still maintaining a Hash Heritage, which
is a total family tree of all the hash chapters in the
world. Any chapter can find who it's forefathers are and who
the daughter hash chapters are. However, you must pass the
information to Bill to have it on record.
The Hash House before
demolition to make way for a highway
MARKING THE TRAIL
Gispert and Cecil In
An Early Recce
Hashing hasn't strayed far from its Kuala Lumpur roots. A
typical hash kennel (local chapter or group) today is a
loosely-organized group of 20-100 men and women, aka
Harriers and Harriettes or hussies, although not all groups
are co-ed, and some chapters in major metropolitan areas
have well more than 100 hashers at an event. Kennel members
meet to follow a trail laid by a hare (the person(s) leading
the trail who leaves the appropriate marks on the ground,
trees etc. for the pack to follow). While strips or pieces
of paper have previously been used to mark trail, especially
in jungle or off-road areas, it has generally been replaced
with flour or chalk, with toilet paper often being used in
residential or town areas that would make it more
environmental friendly. Generally any mark used to identify
the trail is called a 'hash mark'.
Hash kennels in some locations, especially in cities,
recommend that the hare call the local police dispatcher
before the run as a courtesy to inform them of the run. They
also prefer the use of bio-degradable materials such as
flour or sawdust to mark the trail in order to avoid
unnecessary problems. After the anthrax scares in 2001, many
groups throughout the Western world had to change the way
they marked trails by using colored chalk or other
materials. On August 25, 2007, a "bio-terror" alert was
triggered in New Haven, Connecticut due to hashers using
flour, and the two hares (who spread the flour) were charged
with a felony in an event known as the Hamburger Hash
Affair. A similar incident occurred in Rome.
Trails are, as they mostly are, "dead" - where trail is laid
entirely (or in part) in advance of the start. They could
also be "live" - where the hare gets the head start (often
5-10 minutes) from the pack and sets the run as he goes. The
hare would of course have pre-planned the trail and to make
it interesting, the run paper would be given to the hare
just as the hare starts off!! Live trails, while closer to
the original Hare and Hounds tradition mentioned in "Tom
Brown's Schooldays", are more common in the USA, while the
rest of the world tends towards "dead" or pre-laid trails.
The choice of "live" or "dead" trails is a subject of much
controversy on the various hash-related discussion groups.
There may be one or more "beer stops" or "beer checks" along
the way, with the hare either pre-caching a stock of beer,
or having the trail go to a prearranged meeting spot with
the "beer truck", generally a personal vehicle that someone
is using to transport a keg or cooler of drinks, snacks, and
With a "live" trail, the general intent of the pack is to
attempt to catch the hare before they finish the trail and
get to the end. In efforts to do this, some pack members
might "range", or go off-trail if they can guess where the
hare may go, in attempts to head off the hare. Generally
such a form of athleticism is frowned on by some of the more
socially minded kennels.
To make the run interesting, the hare can set the trail
through literally any kind of terrain, with the hares'
imagination providing the only limitation. Hashers may run
through streets, back alleyways, residential areas, forests,
swamps or shopping malls, ford streams, climb fences,
explore storm drains, run through huge jungles and scale
cliffs. The pack never knows where a trail will go or where
it may lead.
A trail may be 'A to A', where the run starts and ends in
the same place, or 'A to B' where the run ends in a
different location and the pack is transported back to the
runsite. It could even be a 'B' to 'A' run, where the pack
is transported to a starting point to run back to the
Often the hare will employ several tricks in attempts to
slow the pack and to keep runners and walkers together. The
hare may mark an intersection - generally called a "check" -
that signifies that the trail continues within a 360 degree
area from that point. Several false trails may lead from
that check and it is up to the front runners to "solve" the
trail by going out and determining what might actually be
the correct path, or "true trail". Once the true way has
been determined, then that runner may mark the check to
indicate the proper direction so that anyone to come up it
later (such as the walkers, other runners, or anyone
arriving late) will not have to figure it out all over
The pack will generally carry whistles, horns, or other
audible means of communicating in order to assist each other
on trail and keep from getting lost. A member of the pack
calling out "Are you?" means to know if another individual
is searching for the true trail, typically near a check (or
intersection), or is on the correct path. Someone will
typically call out either "Checking!" to indicate that they
are looking for the trail or "On-On", or blow their whistle
or horn three times, to signify that they are on the true
trail and that the pack should follow them. Otherwise, the
member may shout "Flying!" or give a couple of "wing flaps"
with their arms indicate that they have abandoned the true
trail in search of a short cut in which case, others should
only follow at their own risk.
Every Hash House employs its own set of marks and the names
for these marks may vary widely, so Hashers visiting another
pack should check the local signs before the run.
Traditionally, new runners or visitors will have the local
markings explained to them before the run at a "chalk talk".
In some chapters, the hares are present at the start of the
run. They will give some trail-specific advice, too, such as
rare markings used, or particular encounters such as a
Trails do get awry or completely shot up. This could happen
if the runs were too long, too short, checks were too
difficult, too easy, trails inadvertently criss-crossing,
paper not sufficient, paper missing, earlier running chapter
papers not picked causing confusion, or anything that makes
runners straggling back with unmentionable remarks.
It is generally accepted that runs must be between 1.0 and
1.5 hours for the front runners. Others usually come in
within 30 minutes after. If the run is too short or exceeds
the time limit, the hare would have to do a fine run later.
Although some (but perhaps very few) of today's
health-conscious hashers drink water or a diet soda, a
trail's end is still a predominantly alcoholic drinking
occasion. The exception would be found at a family hash....
and even then. At trail's end hashers gather to drink beer,
soft drinks before or after the beers and generally have a
chinwag. This is always about the run, how good it was, how
bad it was, how well the hare set it and how it could have
been better, how they would have set it, who did what silly
thing on the run etc etc.
In many chapters, especially in the tropics, hashers would
have a wash down or even a full bath, shampoo and all!!!
They would have water containers and sluice from them or
nowadays, have electric showers runnning off the cigarette
lighter point in the car !!! This bathing from the different
cars would indeed appear to be a ritual of sorts !!! But as
the tropical runners would admit, nothing more refreshing
than a wash after the run !!! In others, they just have a
change of clothes.
Then it is time for the "Circle" This typically consists of
drinking more beer; this time ritualistically. Circles may
be led by the hash Grandmaster, the group's Religious
Adviser, or by a committee of mismanagement. Traditions and
the degree of rowdiness vary from hash to hash, but in
general the Circle consists of awarding "Down-Downs".
A down-down is one of the oldest traditions and is a means
of punishing or rewarding pretty much anything. Upon being
called to do a down-down the accused must come to the middle
of the circle and drink everything that they have in their
vessel (generally a cup, mug, or other drinking device), to
the accompaniment of a short ditty. They must do this
without pause until they have consumed the whole quantity of
drink (typically beer, but it can be of any drink they may
have with them) or they must pour the remaining contents
over their head.
Hashers enjoying the
cool of the evening
The circle starts with the hare being called to the box, a
small stand of beer cartons or otherwise. Comments on the
run are made and in total frankness too !!! A Down Down is
then given to the hare for an enjoyable run, even if it was
a total disaster.
Miscreants taking an
Then hashers are called up for misdemeanors real, imagined,
or blatantly made up. Humour and good sporting spirit is the
general order of the circle. The true art of the 'call' is
to make it a humourous rigmoral and start in such a way that
the intended victim only realises that he/she is, at the
end, the victim. The hasher called, has no right of appeal
and a drink is taken anyway. Generally the activities will
also include the group singing of bawdy drinking songs of
the type that can be heard in a pub, fraternity party,
military get-together, rugby match, or other such social
gathering. These songs are also published and distributed to
members in the form of so-called Hash House Hymnals.
At the conclusion of the Circle, hashers may head to an " ON
ON" "On-After" or "On-On-On", which may be at a nearby
restaurant or pub for food and more drinks. The food is
usually ordered in advance and the bill is shared by all.
Drinks are on individual account but it is common for
hashers to put an amount in a glass as a kitty for
contributors to share beer. (You can imagine what will
happen to scroungers). This is the social part of the hash,
and the party may last from one hour to several hours, as
they tell stories, have fun, and enjoy everyone's company.
TRADITIONS AND NAMING CONVENTIONS
There are said to be no rules in hashing, however several
traditions have developed with a violation of such severely
frowned upon and likely to invoke a punishment by way of a
Typically being caught in a pair of new shoes may require
that one drinks from the offending shoe as penance and to
make it more interesting, after the run, irrespective of the
You Can Never Escape The Call for Wearing New Shoes !!
Other traditions which differ among chapters, include a
prohibition of pointing with fingers, requiring the use of
elbows or other appendages to indicate direction, and a
proscription against the use of real names (aka nerd names)
at any point around other hashers.
One interesting aspect of hashing (besides the running and
general drinking of beer) is the use of names as assigned by
the group. Though traditions may vary greatly among the
groups, and some groups do not do this, it is common
practice to give members a nickname. At their first hash,
attendees will generally be known as "Virgin [Name]" or "New
Boot [Name]" and will then be called "Just [Name]" or "No
Name ... [Name]" until duly named by the group. The occasion
of a member's naming by the group may occur after they have
attended a specified number of hashes (e.g. 5), after they
hare their first trail, or after they do something the pack
Before a naming, the group may collect information
concerning the individual or ask them a series of questions
that can include occupation, most embarrassing moment,
personal preferences, stories, or experiences. Others will
then be allowed to share their own stories or knowledge
concerning that individual in hopes of finding some aspect
that seems to be memorable or noticeably sticks out
regarding that person. Many suggestions may be offered, with
the final name being chosen by vote or general group
consensus with more often than not some humorous or
(unfortunately) debaucherous connotation being used.
Sometimes a kennel will conduct a special event in place of
a normal hash, that can consist of anything from a house
party, camp out, or pub crawl. One of the more famous events
is known as the 'Red Dress Run' and is held by most local
chapters once a year. This tradition began in San Diego when
a virgin (new) hasher showed up for a run wearing only a red
dress (having been ill informed of what to expect). When she
next returned, other hashers decided to wear a red dress as
a joke; with it soon becoming an annual event and eventually
spreading around the world. During this event, which can be
either a normal hash run or a simple day-long pub crawl,
everyone (both genders) is to wear something red and
dress-like, not specifically just a red dress. Turn outs
include red body latex paint to red duct tape, red sarongs,
or a normal lovely summer dress, with all extremes being
pretty well accepted. In Kennels that host red-dress runs,
it is not unusual that it be the largest hash of the year
with attendance up to 2,000 in San Diego for a couple of
years over 1500 currently in New Orleans and 500-600 in
places such as Washington DC. Other variations of a theme
can be seen, as kennels might also host a green dress run
(often held around St. Patrick's Day), formal dress run,
lingerie hash, or a clown hash.
There are also bicycle hashes or BASHes, that have been
formed, based on the same principles as the running hashs,
but often without the ceremonial aspects. In many countries,
there may be Children Hashes for those under 16, generally
with soft drinks replacing beer and many adult themes being
toned down considerably. There are also "Hash-O" events that
combine elements of hashing and orienteering. Not wanting to
be left out, the dogs who accompany the owners have insisted
on Dog Hashes or DASHes being formed.