In the past two decades our sport has become less weird and more wired. Sure there are off-road triathlons, swim/run events, and adventure racing, but to truly capture the roots of the sport, you need to think outside the box. While this training alternative may seem unorthodox at first, remember: There was nothing orthodox about going for a swim, bike, and run all in one go back in 1974. Get your weird mojo back with a hash run.
According to Wikipedia and pretty much everyone you’ll meet at a local hash, the Hash House Harriers began back in 1938 in Kuala Lampur. Since then, they’ve grown to become the largest (and strangest) running club in the world. “There aren’t many rules, but there are a lot of traditions,” a senior member of the Long Beach Hash House Harriers with an unprintable hash alias told us. And most of the nicknames hashers give each other—along with their traditional songs, inside jokes, route names, patches, t-shirts, and other paraphernalia—are not something you’d want to repeat to your grandma. Very (very) non-PC humor aside, hash runs involve drinking (the alcohol kind), a bit of navigation, some running, and a lot of going with the flow.
The basics of a hash involve a “hare” laying down a trail of chalk and/or our with marks that vary from club to club. After giving the hares a head start, everyone else follows the mystery route. You could run anywhere from three to five miles, but expect to stop often. You could end up on a boat, doing some mild trespassing, or even in the back of a U-Haul truck, but the vibe is always light-hearted, welcoming, and—above all—unpredictable. There are lots of terms to learn (see below), but ignore the urge to over-Internet research; not knowing everything won’t diminish your experience—other hashers will eagerly help. Toss aside your inhibitions and workout expectations (leave the Garmin at home, but bring a bottle for drinks), and check out websites like Gotothehash.net to find one of these many underground clubs near you.
Know Before You Go
Do not bring the kids
While some groups are more family-friendly than others, it’s a smart move to leave the young-uns at home for your first visit.
Do bring a sense of adventure
There’s a chance you’ll get lost, but use the experience as a way to practice the unexpected challenges that (always) show up on race day. Consider it training your resilience muscle.
If you’re looking to get in a real workout, run or ride to the meetup spot, and let the event be all about fun.
This is not a race
You can’t win a hash run, but you can certainly lose by looking like a “racist” (see terms). Enjoy the experience.
“What’s going on? Where’s the trail?”
- “I’m on the right trail”
A marked spot where the trail could go in many directions.
- Spot to stop and have a beverage.
This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Triathlete magazine.