So how do I go about explaining Hash House Harriers? Although Wikipedia rather tamely refers to them as ‘an international group of non-competitive running social clubs’, I’ve seen them described elsewhere as a ‘drinking club with a running problem’. From my experiences with the Kathmandu group, the second description is much more accurate!
I needed to get to the start line of the hash (a random location found on a random website), which was roughly in the direction of the American embassy, about 5km outside of Thamel, the main tourist area. I turned a corner, and 4 of the 5km would be uphill. Also, it was still pouring and I’m at the perfect height to have my eyes poked out by Nepalese women with umbrellas.
About half way there I hear this English accent shouting. I turn round and he’s shouting for me out of his car. He’s a Hash House veteran offering me a lift – a godsend, I wouldn’t have found it in a maze of Nepalese backstreets otherwise.
So how does the hash work? A couple of people go out and lay a route down (they use shredded paper here), you follow the route shouting to people behind to let them know you’re still going the right way (on-on). There are designated stop points where everyone regroups, and other points where you’re lead down a dead end. The idea is that the fastest people run further but end up back with the group.
So we start out and I have no clue where I am, where I’m going, even which direction I’m meant to be heading in. We wind through some urban Kathmandu but we’re noticeably working our way out of the city, and we end up climbing up towards Kopan monastery, where there’s an ice cream stop at halfway the halfway point! Me and another guy also did some press ups – which would come back to bite me.
After that we work our way back down the hill and through the Kathmandu valley, full of farms and beautiful views). It’s all a big social do, and I end up chatting to a girl from Huddersfield (there was strong Yorkshire representation), an American marine from Texas, and an NGO work who has run the Boston marathon.
By some small miracle I ended up back where I started, where a small feast had been put on along with an ample supply of beer. And you chat some more, joke around, form a big circle and slag off the people who set the route, then make people down beer for various reasons. I had to go into the middle as a virgin, a leaver, and as a show off who did press ups. This last one I had to do while in press-up position (I blame Farhad).
After all the revelry had died down, it was 5km back downhill, now in the dark, to my hotel. With no idea where my feet were landing and it’s a miracle I didn’t end up in the road. Thank God I was wearing a hi vis tshirt!
Although it was my first Hash experience, sure as hell won’t be my last! The timings didn’t quite work out in Kuala Lumpur, which is annoying as this is the birthplace of the whole idea. But I’ve had a quick look and there are plenty to try out in New Zealand. And I recommend them to all my running friends – keep an eye out whenever you’re abroad and looking for an adventurous group run.
Have you ever done a hash? Are there any locations you’d recommend to a novice? Let me know!