The word "Hashing" sounds almost illegal, but in fact, it may be the perfect combination of exercise, social interaction and, plenty of beer. Hashers are runners and walkers, but without an emphasis on competition or speed. Hence the slogan "A Drinking Club with a Running Problem". There are plenty of good and humorous definitions of what hashing is all about, but perhaps one that describes it best is this: "Hashing" is a form of non-competitive cross-country running and hiking with the main objective of working up a decent thirst and then quenching it with beer". Hashing is patterned after the traditional British schoolboy game called "Hare and Hounds" in which one or more runners are designated Hares while the other runners are Hounds: Harriers (males) and Harriettes (females). Generally the Hares lay a trail the day or morning before a run. This trail is laid in flour, chalk, shredded paper, or whatever else is handy and environmentally friendly. The trail can be devious and Harriers have to follow the clues left by the Hares. Trails are never boring, and to stay on trail Hashers have to run streets and back alleyways, ford streams, climb fences, explore storm drains, and scale cliffs. Skillful Hares try to keep the pack together by setting a trail that incorporates loops, false trails, and "checks" that allow the slower Hounds in the "Pack" to keep up. Some runs may include a stop along the route to chug beer. But remember, a Hash run is more of a party than an athletic event and competitive running will be “punished” with a down-down (beer chug).
Origin: British ex-patriates associated with rubber plantations, developed the tradition more than 60 years ago in Kuala Lumpur, in what is now Malaysia, founding a running club called the Hash House Harriers. They named the group after their favorite hang out, the Selangor Club, nicknamed the "Hash House" for its second-rate food. The founding father, A. S. Gispert, nicknamed "G", made the game more fun by making it non-competitive. At first the Hash was an all-male event (are we surprised?), but eventually the British boys recognized the endearing qualities of women and all the ingredients for a rollicking good time were assembled: the "mixed" Hash was born. Hashing died out during World War II (Japanese occupying forces were notoriously anti-fun) but picked up in the post-war years, spreading through the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, then exploding in popularity in the mid-70s.
Hashing Today:Hashing hasn't strayed far from its Kuala Lumpur roots. A typical hash today is a loosely-organized group of men and women who meet regularly to run and socialize. In recent years, Hashing has become steadily more popular, although it is still unusual for spectators to respond with anything but bewilderment, shock or even horror at the sight of a throng of hashers in fervent pursuit of flour and beer, stumbling and weaving through a vacant lot or wood. Numerous articles have appeared about hashing, but hashing remains exclusive, possibly because it takes a strange mind to enjoy it.
Where To Hash: Nowadays you can hash almost anywhere in the world. There are more than 1,700 groups of hashers in most countries of the world, and unless you live at the North/South Pole, there should be a Hash near you. Hashes vary in character, from single-sex hashes to oversexed hashes, wine-and-cheese hashes to 'lick the spilled beer off the bathroom floor' hashes, wilderness-adventure legs-bleeding creek-wading cliff-hanging hashes to urban-assault car-dodging cop-hopping crowd-crashing hashes. Hashers vary in age from baby-boot to 'one boot in the grave', and may be of any size, colour, shape, flavour, and with or without sprinkles.
Local Flavour: Every Hash is known for having its own local traditions and customs. While in some hashes trails are laid before the run takes place ("dead trail"), in others hashes runs are organized "live" and hounds experience the thrill of trying to actually catch the hares. There are hashes organized for adults only, while many others are family oriented and you can bring your grandparents. There are Hashes where only men are admitted, most Hashes, however, are mixed and definitively more fun. The one common denominator to all Hashes is... BEER !