Hash House Harriers – My Weekend Hashing as a Hare and Being Named

This weekend I got to have my first experience being a “hare” for Hash House Harrier event! A little background information may be in order first. What is a hash?

The only thing required to have a Hash Run is a hare to set a trail with paper, flour, sawdust, chalk, etc. or a combination of these items.

Basically one or more people set a trail using the above supplies, either way ahead of time or with about a 15 minute head start. The rest of the runners follow the trail to try to make it to the end. The Hattiesburg Hash started somewhere just under a year ago, with some assistance from the Biloxi group. I think we quickly realized that the two groups had different personalities, though, so we’ve mostly been on our own lately, even calling ourselves a “Run with Beer” because we stopped using a lot of the traditional songs and group elements from other Hashes. Either way, what we do is still essentially in the long tradition of the Hash House Harriers, featuring plenty of running and drinking.

The philosophy of the original Hash House Harriers from the 1938 charter:

  • To promote physical fitness among our members
  • To get rid of weekend hangovers
  • 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
This weekend, I got to be a hare for the first time, along with Elana. We had started at our house and had a 15 minute head start. We had a midpoint set at Mugshots, with a shrimp boil at the house for the end. Along the way, I got stopped by a cop! I’m pretty sure he thought I was running around littering, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense – then again, I guess hashing itself doesn’t make a lot of sense from the outside either. When he saw the flour and chalk, though, I think he decided it was harmless enough.

Another HHH tradition is being named by other members, usually for something embarrassing or memorable that you’ve done. So far, my most memorable hash moment probably came later in the day after I had hosted JJ’s 5k: Blues, Booze, & BBQs, where I injured my head. After being bandaged up, I later went on to compete in the hash that evening. A lot of people suggested I should probably go to the hospital, but I shrugged it off, had some more beer, and hashed it out.
So last night, I finally got my Hash Name: Head Wound.
In Running & Philosophy, Richard DeWitt suggests that modern hashing has a lot of similarities to Hellenistic Philosophy, particularly Cynicism. The Cynicism philosophy holds that one should live in accordance with nature – which means doing what comes naturally and minimizing possessions, and this freedom will bring happiness. However, it’s not easy, and requires constant training:
[Diogenes] used to say, that there were two kinds of exercise: that, namely, of the mind and that of the body; and that the latter of these created in the mind such quick and agile impressions at the time of its performance, as very much facilitated the practice of virtue; but that one was imperfect without the other, since the health and vigour necessary for the practice of what is good, depend equally on both mind and body. – Lycinus
Hashing is characterized by a similar attitude to cynicism – “it’s just a hash” is a common saying. There’s not much worrying, there’s a lot of going with the flow, and there is a lot of fun. The trail represents training for both the mind and the body. Or to say it another way:

Hashing is a state of mind- a friendship of kindred spirits joined together for the sole purpose of reliving their childhood or fraternity days, releasing the tensions of everyday life, and generally, acting a fool amongst others who will not judge you or measure you by anything more than your sense of humor. – Stray Dog

I can see the link DeWitt is trying to make. Hashing certainly does represent that freedom that is so hard to find in our normal day-to-day lives. A time to exercise and drink and converse and act silly with people you enjoy. And hopefully, a reminder of just how little we actually need to be happy in life!


For Further Reading:

Running and Philosophy: A Marathon for the Mind (Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture)

Hash House Harriers - On You!

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