The Hash House Harriers
The Hash House Harriers is an informal gathering of once-a-week runners. It started off in Kuala Lumpur in the late 1930's as a way for the local expats to get some exercise. The name comes from the original meeting place, The Selangor Club (aka The Hash House), and the fact that the sport is based on the old paper chase or hounds-and-hares, a favourite with the British gentry since the late 1800's. Since the 1960's, Hashing has been spreading around the world. Originally an expat activity, the majority of hashes now cater to local residents. Since Hashing is by definition a disorganised activity, nobody really knows the true figures, but by the best estimates there are several hundred thousand Hashers running in around 2,000 Hashes in 150 countries around the world.
The object of a Hash run is to follow a trail, laid in shredded paper or flour, laid by the Hares prior to the start of the run. Unlike a normal cross-country run, the hares build in checks to slow down the FRB's (front running bastards) so that the rest of the pack can catch up. These take the form of checks, backchecks, false trails and so on, where the trail stops and the pack has to fan out to pick it up again. Most Hashes are mixed (male and female) and some are male only or female only. Most mixed Hashes are family Hashes where kids are welcome. The Hash is NOT a race (or it's not supposed to be one, but some Hashes have regressed in this regard). The typical run goes for an hour to an hour and a half.
After the run is completed and all the runners have returned, the ritual known as the Hash Circle starts. This involves the Hash Grand Master or the Religious Advisor selecting groups of people for numerous Hash Sins, both real and imagined, and having the victims down a beer (or substitute) rapidly. Hash sins include, but are not limited to, being a Virgin (first-time Hasher), returning or visiting Hasher, Hash Slashing (stopping for a pee while the Hash is in progress), Hash Trashing (littering), competitive running, not wearing a Hash t-shirt, getting a Hash Name, and anything else that the GM or RA can think up. Most Hashes give members a Hash Name. This is usually something ribald, and usually based on something that the Hasher has said or done recently. Hashes also keep track of each member's attendance, in order to reward them when they reach certain milestones, e.g. fiftieth or one hundredth run, tenth hareset, etc.Still confuesd see a brief tutorial
Hashing appeals to people in several ways: the social activity, the exercise, the chance to get out of the city and see the countryside, the irreverence to all and sundry and, of course, the beer. Because it is an international sport, once you become a Hasher, you can make yourself at home anywhere in the world where there is a local Hash. And if there isn't one, you can start your own.
The Saigon Hash
The Saigon Hash House Harriers is a family Hash. We cater to all ages and genders. Membership is automatic - once you have attended two runs you are a member. There are no membership fees: members pay a run fee every time they attend a run. The Mismanagement Committee is generally elected once a year. In practice, anybody who is willing to contribute their time to the Hash usually gets drafted into the committee. Being on the committee is not the only way to contribute to the Hash. We are always looking for Hares to help scout and set the weekly runs.
The typical Saigon Hash run is around an hour and a half in length. Two trails are set, one for runners and one for walkers. There is a water stop on the trail, and the trails are planned so that runners and walkers meet at the stops. This gives people the opportunity to to change from one trail to the other if they wish. For more on how Hash runs work, check out the Rules for Hounds as well as the Hash Commandments.
After the run, all Hashers are invited to continue on to the On-on, the post-Hash meal which is usually held at one of Saigon's many fine dining establishments. There is no need to shower and change: no matter how dirty, sweaty and smelly you are you'll have plenty of company. Anyway, most of the restaurants are used to us by now.
Without the weekly Hares, there would be no Hash run. The Hares are the Hashers who have volunteered (or have been blackmailed, shanghaied or otherwise coerced) into setting that week's run. If you have never set a run before or if you would like an idea of the heroic labours that these noble souls perform, read the Guidelines for Setting a Hash Run.
The Birth of the Saigon Hash House Harriers
Many moons ago, when Silent P was young, and before the coming of the runners, a drunken session one night in August 1990 lead to him getting into something quite risky (or rather something else as well). Read on in his own words, taken verbatim from the Holy Two Years Book of Blessed Memory. I say verbatim, just in case you might think that I was responsible for the lousy grammar and the other literary foibles....
"Our story actually starts in August 1990, when our neighbours at the time popped in for a beer and introduced Grevil (Grovel) Sharp and Jaqueline (Goldilooks) Gouclh who had recently arrived in Ho Chi Minh City and were "traders". Several beers later, Grovel inquired whether I'd Hashed before, and after several more mind jogging San Migs we reminisced over prior hashes, Beijing being one that all three of us had participated in the recent past. It was then decided we might as well set a run the following Sunday "in the spirit of getting the expatriate community together.
"Thus the stage was set for the birth of the Ho Chi Minh Hash House Harriers. The hares were myself and Grovel and the start was to be from the BP staff house I was currently residing in at 161 Thu Duc . By word of mouth we communicated the existence of the first Hash - no flashy fly sheets back in the old days! - and managed to persuade a few gullible people that it really would be fun running around in the heat of the day! A few managed to turn up for the run, though some that did clearly had seen fitter days and reverted to mechanised transport! In true Hash style the Down-Downs and On-Ons were held at 161 Thu Duc, kindly sponsored by BP for both food and refreshments, and this attracted some 40 participants. People must have been relatively civilised back then, or newly arrived, as no-one felt the urge to plunge each other into the swimming pool - obviously later arrivals and more time spent in sunny HCMC has changed this behaviour. We did however manage to continue the John Brown trend of wet towel throwing. Some 15 crates of beer later, we managed to get rid of the last hasher at about 3am..... thus the hash was born on 26 August 1990. The runs continued every fortnight and despite the running people kept coming for the beer!"
The story since then..
It's very difficult to say what the story has been since the birth of Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City Hash House Harriers, other than there seem to have been over 1,000 runs since the first one. I would also guess that there have been quite dramatic changes in the people taking part, not only physically, but psychologically.
The Blessed Two Year Book has an inordinate amount of space devoted to mutual insulting in print. so maybe they all fell out and went home in a sulk..... It also has a rather remarkable amount of references to "shagging" and beer -- which seem somehow interlinked.
One consistent factor in Saigon Hash history has been the disappearing, reappearing nature of the Hash Trash, which seems to cease at run number 60, was revived, deceased, revived, deceased and then revived...sort of... and deceased -- and reborn (today, it's in the safe hands of Basil Thrush). But despite the fact that much of Hash history remains shrouded in a drunken haze, it is safe to say that the brave Saigon hashers have somehow overcome liver cirrhosis and terminal boredom to carry on the proud tradition of carrying on.
Anyway, as they say, it's all history now. All that matters is that after 1,000 runs and twenty years the Saigon Hashers are still getting out there every week and providing good fun and frolics in the breathtaking natural environment. Let's celebrate the literature and humour that is our common, treasured heritage...
[Large portions of this page are stolen borrowed from other Hash sources on the web as well as from the Second Anniversary book and the 500th Run book.]