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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"On, on!" -at the Hash (Part 2)

"On, on!"
Note: Some content of this blog is not suitable for younger readers. Or those easily offended. Hell, who am I kidding? I don't have readers. "Self? Are you offended? Nope." Continue...]

I call them the "Raunchy Runners:" the Mount Maunganui Hash House Harriers.http://www.mounthash.8m.com/  It's a rag-tag bunch of walkers, joggers and a few faster folk who meet each Monday night to drink beer (or another adult beverage - heck, sometimes even soda), run, pause to drink more beer (near the end of the run/walk) and eat whilst having another refreshment (note: I can't drink anything but water before a run. And I rarely down more than one adult beverage...okay, maybe 2, during the night. There's the disclaimer). The Hash is commonly referred to as "a drinking club with a running problem."
Don't wear new shoes to the Hash - You'll have to drink from them.
 I ran with a Hash group in Spokane, Washington called the Flying Irish http://www.flyingirish.org/ who run each week (except in the dead of winter) from O'Dougherty's Irish pub. Several hundred runners and walkers descend on O.D.'s in the summer. The leader bellows the route to the crowd, who strain to hear above the din of dozens of sidewalk conversations. You follow the leader and finish with the group. With so many runners pounding the streets, it looks like a road race. With so many people, the dynamic is entirely different to Hash in New Zealand.
For one thing, NZ Hashers (and Hashers around the world) have nicknames. Mostly raunchy or embarrassing monikers derived from either your own name, occupation or something stupid you said or did on a run (a Hasher the other night told me of 2 American Hash names bestowed thanks to goings-on during a run: "2 dogs f___ing," and "2 big black dogs f___ing." Don't we Yanks have any creativity? (Actually, we do. Check out http://bloomsdayrun.org/ and click "corporate cup" for clever running team names, like the lawyers who call themselves, "Inglorious Barristers," a dentist who's "Leader of the Plaque," and a surgical practice that calls itself, "Rollin for the Colon"). I'll get to my Hash name later in this blog...

On, on!
At the Mount Hash, runners are not warned of the path ahead. Instead, they look for trail markings in chalk, flour, sawdust and shredded paper. A runner shouts, "On, on!" when he or she finds the trail. Hash has its own language and symbolism. Markings include "H" for Hash (you're on the right trail); "FT" for false trail; and PS for "piss stop." Strange to my American ears, but these Kiwis refer to beer as "piss." I thought they were running towards the toilet, when in fact, they were running for the Tui, Waikato or Speight's. Whatever suds were on sale that day.
Hash runs are among the most varied I've done. Since joining the Mount Hashers, I've dodged cow patties in paddocks (pastures); forded a creek while balancing on a narrow log; scratched my legs in blackberry brambles (and later learned I could've avoided scratches if I'd have paid more attention to trail markings instead of following the leader); gingerly hopped over a fence I was told was electrified, and run in soft sand along the Pacific Ocean. Monday night, while running through a neighborhood, I caught a rugby ball kids had thrown over a high fence. I tossed it back. Mount Hash runs always include hills: steep, grassy, gravelly, you name it...

The Rules
Despite their party-hard nature, Hashers have rules, including: no "hash" (marijuana) at the Hash; no stealing, no fighting, and aside from the "piss stop," and the "down-down" circle (explained later in this post) no free booze. Head Hashers will pause to allow runners and walkers to catch up. One Hasher told me, "I can trust these guys. We all look out for each other."
Monday's run was about 8 kilometers (5 miles). It finished where it started, at a Hasher's home, where we held the "down-down" circle, followed by dinner ($5 gets you basic grub). Why is it called "down-down?" Because drinks are downed – it's payment for infractions incurred during the run, or during life. Hashers have been fined for such things as sinking a replica of the Loch Ness Monster in a New Zealand lake. These faux floggings are followed by songs like this [excerpted – I still don't know all the words]:

He's an asshole through and through
He's an asshole; He's true blue...

Or, how about this classic?

What a wank, what a wank, what a wank, wank, wank...

This one's a chant:

He ought to be publicly pissed on.
He ought to be publicly shot.
He ought to be tied to a urinal.
And left there to fester and rot.

The Names
After 5 runs, the Hashers give you your Hash name. Their choice, not yours. Since the NZ group doesn't know me well, they went with a play on my first name, Dawn. It's... (drum roll, please...) "Cockadoodle-doo." (It was nearly twisted into something else, starting with "Any" and ending with "will do." Argh). You can spell your name however you like. Another Hasher suggested I French-ify the spelling for rooster, so I sign into the Hash as "Coque-ah-deux-dle-du" (Yes, it's all mispelled!). Others in the Mount group go by names like, "69er," "Muff Diver""Liq N Stik" (a postal worker) "Mr. Magoo" (wears powerful glasses) and "Fartoo," (um, not sure about this one).

Is this much-a-doodle about nothing? Silly running games for grown-ups? Probably. But after several satisfying runs, a few laughs and several beers, I'm getting used to the group I call the "Raunchy Runners." One Hasher told me, after a "down-down" circle, "There's a time and place for everything, including Hash humor." It's okay to play. Life's too serious not to make a fool of yourself every now and then. "On, on!"

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