Welcome to the Mount Vernon Hash House Harriers webpage. Now before you get all upset, the word hash in our title does not mean that you are in the presence of a group of druggies. Over 60 years ago in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when the first Hash House Harriers club was started, hash meant food—it may still mean food over there, who knows! Just for completeness, harrier is supposedly Australian slang for runner.
WHAT IS A HASH?
A hash is a game of wits where one or more hares set a trail for the pack of hounds to follow. The hares use loops, backtracks, checks, and a clever trail to try to outwit the pack. Smart use of water obstacles, heavy shrubbery, unexpected changes of direction, etc., will make it very unlikely that the pack will catch them or gain an advantage by short cutting. A good hash will typically include a combination of water crossings, mud, hills, dense wooded game trails, poison ivy, wooden fences, ditches, culverts, storm drains, open fields, fallen trees, parks, etc. The trail is not intended to be a boring paved road race. At the end of the trail, hashers are rewarded for their efforts with the hash beverage of choice, that golden nectar of the gods—BEER!
Hashing is a non-competitive form of exercise with great entertainment, relaxation, and a weekly release of frustrations and energy. (To distinguish this from your sex life, it's also held outside, with lots of other people around. If that also describes your sex life, you'll have to define hashing for yourself.) While the hash includes its share of serious runners, it is primarily a social group, not an athletic one. A good attitude toward your fellow hashers is much more important than athletic ability. Remember, the key here is to have fun and drink lots of beer.
The China Hash House Harriers’ definition of a hasher
A hasher is the protector on earth of a half dozen bottles of beer. Hashers have the energy of a tortoise, only half a mind, the sincerity of a born liar, and the sexual ambition of rabbits. They like to spend their money on beer, sex, and the rest foolishly. It has been said that you can lock a hasher out of your house, but not your liquor cabinet or Jaccuzi.
If this sounds good to you, we invite you to participate as often as you can escape from life's outside pressures (girlfriends and/or boyfriends and/or wives and/or husbands and/or consorts and/or work—you get the idea). And while the hash is open to anyone who wants to participate and have fun, because we serve alcohol, if you are not 21 years of age, please do not come unless you are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
The original Hash House Harriers were a group of Englishmen living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during the 1930s. They ate, lived and mostly drank at the Selangor Club, derogatively nicknamed the hash house for its unimaginative, monotonous food. To relieve the boredom of life in KL, they developed a variation of an old English children's game—hares and hounds—where one or more hares would set a trail with bits of paper and the hounds would attempt to track them down. At the end of the trail, the hares and hounds would adjourn to the Selangor Club to drink beer (a hasher's first and true love). A.S. Gispert, who’s nickname was “G”, named the group after their club—the Hash House Harriers. The connection to the Selangor Club is also why the Hash House Harriers are described as A Drinking Club With A Running Problem.
The original group of hashers survived the Japanese occupation of Malaysia during World War II, except for “G” who died during that war on February 11, 1942. It wasn't until 1962 that a second hash club started in Singapore. Hashing grew slowly for the next ten years, with only 35 clubs in existence around the world in 1974. However, the 1970s and ‘80s saw an explosion of growth in the sport. Today, there are over 1,500 hash groups in 160 countries, covering all continents including Antarctica. Every two years, there is a World Interhash, where hashers from all over the world gather to spend a weekend of fun together. The next World Interhash will be held in Goa, India, in September 2002. The Americas Interhash serves a similar function for the Western Hemisphere convening on the odd years falling between World Interhashes. The 2001 Americas Interhash will be in Austin, Texas, over Labor Day weekend. Information on these and other hash events are available from links on the DC Hash web page [www.dchashing.org].
DC Area Hashes
There are over 300 hash groups in the United States with 10 groups that run regularly in the greater Washington, DC metro area. In fact, the first hash in the U.S. was started right here in DC in 1972. It was called, oddly enough, the DC Hash House Harriers (DCH3). That group is still in existence today.
The Mount Vernon Hash House Harriers (MVH3) was founded by two derelicts, The Dribbler and Snow Fairy, in December 1985. The first hash, attended by eight people, was such a fiasco that even the hares' next door neighbor refused to attend the second. Somehow MVH3 has persevered and it celebrated its 700th run in December 2000.
In addition to Mount Vernon and DCH3, there is White House, Everyday is Wednesday, Great Falls, Over The Hump, Harriettes and Harriers, Baltimore-Annapolis, and Maryland Dirt Road. There is also the DC Full mOOn, which runs once a month somewhere around the full moon, and an annual DC Area Red Dress Run, usually the first Saturday in October, where everyone wears—you guessed it—a red dress. Each of the area hashes provides its own unique atmosphere, and we encourage you to check out any or all of them. For directions and other information, call (202) PUD-JAM0 (783-5260) or check the DC Hash web page [www.dchashing.org].
HASHING RULE NUMBER ONE
There are no rules.
OK, OK, even though there aren’t any rules, we do have certain traditions and customs:
MVH3 runs every Saturday at 10 a.m. come rain, snow, earthquake, famine, holidays, stifling heat, bitter cold, and anything else you want to throw in that category. We run all over the Washington DC area in spite of our name. Trail distances are between 4-6 miles. Directions to each run are available on the hash phone line (202-PUD-JAM0, 6#) or on the MVH3 web page [www.dchashing.org/mvh3].
Each hasher donates $5 to cover the cost of the beer, soda, and food. By almost any yardstick, it would be a bargain at twice the price.
At the end of the trail, everyone will have an opportunity to socialize, drink a beer or two (water and sodas are also available), have something to eat, and then be able to participate in one of the great hash traditions, the Circle. During the Circle, virgin (i.e., first-time) hashers and visitors from other hashes will be introduced, and the hares will have to atone for the trail that they just made us do. We will also recognize run anniversaries by individual hashers and note any particularly stupid behavior that might have occurred during the trail. Hashers called into the Circle will be given the beverage of their choice (beer, soda or water) to chug (which we call a Down Down—and what doesn’t go IN you, goes ON you) while the rest of us serenade them with hash songs. Hash namings (the fine tradition of getting a hash nick name—remember “G”?) will also occur during the Circle.
What to bring
Wear something comfortable to run or walk in and bring a bag with dry shoes and clothes to change into if you sweat a lot or in case the hares lead us on a typical trail of mud, muck, and water crossings. In cold weather, an extra sweatshirt or jacket to wear after the run is advisable. In spring and summer, a poison ivy block is also a good idea.
What NOT to bring
Most hashers just love it when a fellow hasher wears new shoes to the hash, because, as we all know, new shoes need to be broken in. So to help with that process, anyone wearing new shoes will get to drink out of them at the Circle. Since we will have probably run through muck by then, the beer will be mighty tasty.
Now, since the purpose of the hash is to have fun and socialize and NOT show your fellow hashers how athletic you are, hashers who show up wearing anything that tries to disprove this will be duly rewarded. In hash parlance, R*A*C*E* is a 4-letter word. Wear a r*cing shirt to the hash? Expect to do a Down Down. We might even ask you to take it off. Just hope you have something else to wear.
One other thing about what NOT to wear. If you are fortunate enough to be called into the Circle to do a Down Down, remember that you are entering a sacred area. OK, OK, maybe it really is just mud and grass, but for the moment it is as close to a religious experience as many of us get. Show some respect. If you are wearing a hat, remove it.
In recognition of your faithful support of MVH3, you will be presented with various-colored headbands after completing a specified number of runs: 5, 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, and 150. After that, you’ll get some cool piece of clothing when you hit 200, 300, etc.
MVH3 hashers respect the rights and property of others at all times. Hares are cautioned to avoid laying a trail which crosses private property, unless they have obtained advance permission from the landowner, and to avoid other dangerous situations in setting the trail. [For more guidance on haring, check out our Hare Manual. Each hasher also has a responsibility to use a little common sense when following the trail and not to trample some unsuspecting homeowner's shrubbery or newly planted grass or to otherwise antagonize the neighbors.
In addition, hashing is a voluntary endeavor, so borrowing a typical hash phrase: If you get hurt, it’s your own damn fault!
A final word of caution concerns drinking and driving. Although the hash recognizes beer as a life-enhancing fluid, each hasher must drink responsibly. If you believe a fellow hasher to be impaired, let others know and intervene so we can ensure the impaired get home safely. They can always return the favor at another time.
Just like you can’t know the players without a score
card, there are some special words, phrases, and symbols used in the hashing
world. Check out the MVH3 Dictionary of Hash
Terminology and see what Trail Markings look
like. Better learn them now, before you commit some major faux paux and
embarrass yourself even more than usual.