Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Hashta la vista

I woke up early this morning, face down, wearing the t-shirt I ran in last night. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth and my fingernails painted in four different colours. That must have been some run.

"I've got the data from our run last night" @lazygirlrunning
When Laura declared her intention to become a triathlete last year, we scratched out a deal for an exchange: I’d accompany her open water swimming in return for an invitation to one of her hash runs.

Based out of a local pub, Hash House Harriers seem to use running as a convenient method of building up a thirst for beer; ahead of the run, a “hare” lays a chalk trail for the pack to follow, shouting calls of “On on!” to indicate when the next marking has been found.

Having survived swimming around a lake in a gale in May, Laura felt she needed to go one better than just an “ordinary” hash run and invited me along to the City Hash’s annual “Last Pac-Man Standing” event in London last night.

I hadn’t felt this nervous walking into a pub since my rather competitive older brother signed me up as his dance partner for salsa lessons. I hoped this evening would end better than that did. A group of around 100 hashers in Pac-Man t-shirts were soon herded out on to the pavement and a series of questions were barked at us by the hare in charge,

“Do you know what we’re doing?”
“NO!” answered the masses.

“Do you know the rules?”
“NO!” I joined in this time.

“Did you read the instructions on the website?”
“NO!” we chorused one last time.

Pac-Mans each get a beer token. Four beer stops are located at undisclosed locations around central London. Pac-Mans run wild around London until they find beer. Pac-Mans swap beer token for beer. Pac-Mans drink beer. One of Pac-Man's fingernails gets painted to stop him returning to the same beer stop. More beer tokens are available from a man with a bag somewhere in Trafalgar Square. Pac-Mans run wild around London until they find another beer stop. Pac-Mans swap beer token for beer. Pac-Mans drink beer. And so it goes on. No boundaries. No clues. Just look out for several people dressed as ghosts who will chase you down the street and ruthlessly steal your beer tokens.

“What noise does Pac-Man make?”
“WACCA WACCA WACCA!” came the answer.

 “On on!” the hare shouted and we were off.

A stranger in London, I follow Laura across Leicester Square, trying to keep up as best I can. Among the usual crowds of people enjoying a warm, summer evening, we spot one of our gang with a cup. “On on!” shouts Laura and several hashers follow us.

We eventually find two people hidden in Whitehall Gardens with a flask containing some concoction: grapefruit-based, undisclosed spirit mixed in. Refreshed, we wind our way back up to Trafalgar Square to recharge our tokens and sniff out the next stop.

“Ghost!” Laura yells and we find ourselves belting up The Strand. Even my most determined sprint isn’t enough to escape the tenacious ghoul and he steals my beer token. Back to Trafalgar Square we go again, shouting, sprinting, stopping occasionally to recover from a fit of the giggles.

I'm wondering if, perhaps, the secret to running quicker might be to train with a man dressed as a ghost going “Whoooooooo!” behind me.

There is such as a thing as too much fun though and Hashers should be careful on a run. Misdemeanours of any kind are noted and used against you back at the pub when the run is complete. It looks like I've chosen the right night to try my first hash: the “virgins” are spared and only the more established hashers seemed to be penalised in the “down-downs” tonight. Instead, I'm simply left to enjoy an evening playing, chatting, and belly-laughing in London.

Thanks very much to Laura and the City Hash House Harriers for my first introduction to hashing.


  1. That Strava map does looks like the kind of thing you would leave on the pavement when trying to run on 4 pints.

    1. I'll remember my red pen next time we go out, QP x

  2. You, Cakey, are very, very funny. And drunk, it seems.

    I wondered what the hell this hash running was - I was imagining some sort of marathon where everyone stops at the mile markers and has a huge toke on a giant bong.

    It appears that your experience of hash running wasn't too different, albeit with less class B drugs, a shorter race distance and more alcohol (and a nod to 80's computer games).

    All in all, a job well done.


      It was a fun evening though. We should join Laura another Tuesday! x

  3. This sounds perfect. Congrats on surviving and slightly jealous over here... Also, your route looks impressive. I think they're currently doing an route-art comp somewhere like Map My Run, might want to submit that?!

    1. Cheers, JJ. I can't take the credit for that art work but you've definitely got me thinking about that competition... now, where can I map out a unicorn with my GPS? x


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