Hash House Harriers: A Drinking Club With a Running Problem

In this article, we're going to dive deep into the world of hashing and find out how it started, how a typical hash works, and some of the customs of this global group of runners who enjoy beer.

The Hash House Harriers, or HHH, or H3, are a global group of sociable and non-competitive runners and drinkers.

The Hash House Harriers are known as The Running Club With A Drinking Problem or The Drinking Club With A Running Problemand their favourite drink is beer.

Globally, there are more than 1,700 groups of Hash House Harriers, and you can find one in almost every major city in the world.

What Exactly Is Hashing?

The New York City Hash House Harriers define hashing as;

“a mixture of athleticism and sociability, hedonism and hard work; a refreshing break from the nine-to-five routine.1How to Hash in NYC | New York City Hash House Harriers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2024, from https://hashnyc.com/hashnyc-info/how-to-hash-in-nyc/

Hashing is an exhilaratingly fun combination of r*nning, orienteering, and partying, where bands of Harriers and Harriettes chase Hares on eight-to-ten kilometer-long trails through town, country, jungle, desert, storm drains, fences and more all in search of exercise, camaraderie, and good times.”2What is Hashing? | About the Hash House Harriers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2024, from https://www.hashhouseharriers.com/what-is-hashing/

OK great, but what exactly is Hashing?!

The best way to explain Hashing is to take a dive into the Hash House Harriers’ history…

The History of The Hash House Harriers

Hashing has a long old history.

It originated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938 when a group of British colonial officers started a Hare and Hounds running group.

Hash House Harriers on st. patrick's day

What is a Hare and Hounds running group?

A group that takes part in a Hare and Hounds running race, or a Paper Chase, or Chalk Chase.

And what is that?

A Hare and Hounds running race is a running game best played in the woods, or in a maze, and it can be played with any number of players.

In the game, someone is designated the ‘Hare’ and the rest of the group are the ‘Hounds’.

The Hare gets a head start, leaving a trail of ripped-up paper and they run away from the Hounds. This is meant to represent the scent of the Hare.

If played in a city, instead of paper shreds, flour or chalk marks are often used.

The paper shreds, much like the scent of a real hare, tend to blow around in the wind, only making the game more difficult for the Hounds.

The Hare’s mission is to reach the designated endpoint without being caught. The Hounds goal is to catch the Hare.

Of course, along the way from A to B there will likely be beer checks or drink checks to allow the hounds to catch up with each other and stay hydrated with cold beer.

Whoever catches the Hare gets to choose the next Hare, and if the Hare wins, they choose.

Hash House Harriers in Peru

Back to the history…

So, these colonial Brits back in 1938 founded a Hare and Hounds running group in Kuala Lumpur.

They decided to name their group after their meeting place, the Selangor Club, aka the ‘Hash House’, and thus, the Hash House Harriers were born.

What distinguished the Hash House Harriers from a regular Hare and Hounds running group was that, upon finishing, the thirsty Hash House Harriers would get stuck into a large crate of iced beer.

Hashing took a brief pause during World War II, but it made a comeback post-war when some of the original group started it up again.

The sport then began spreading slowly through Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand, before experiencing a grand resurgence in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Today there are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs all over the world, complete with directories, newsletters, and regional and world Hashing conventions.

Hash House Harriers on a red dress run

The Hash House Harriers Vocab Decoded

This running group almost has its own internal language.

Here is a list of some HHH vocab:

Hash LanguageEnglish
A Hash, or a Run, or a Hash Run.An event organised by a HHH club.
HashingDoing a Hash, a Run, or a Hash Run.
HashersThose who take part in HHH events.
HarriersMale HHH members.
HarrietsFemale HHH members.
Down-Down SongsChants sung following an accusation.
A Hash KennelA group that regularly meets to Hash.
A Circle or Religion The post-run antics.
On-InThe venue where the trail ends and the party begins.
Hash House Harriers sitting

The Hash House Harriers Constitution

After World War II, when the original Hashers wanted to start the group up again, they were told by the authorities, or the Registrar of Societies, that they needed to be official.3The Original Concept of Hashing. (n.d.). Gotothehash.net. Retrieved March 16, 2024, from https://gotothehash.net/history/rules.html

And to be official, they would need a constitution.

So, in 1950, this is what the original Hashers wrote down as the objectives, and thus the constitution, of the Hash House Harriers:

  • To promote physical fitness among our members
  • To get rid of weekend hangovers
  • To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
  • To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel

The Hash House Harriers Culture

Hash House Harriers on a red dress run

Hashers have a rich and specific culture.

Hash House Harriers Jobs

Running a Hash can be a hefty task, so its responsibilities are divided into various roles.

Here are just some:

  • The Grand Master – The chairman of the board. The big cheese. They lead the Hash and preside over post-trail ceremonies.
  • Religious Advisor – The person who ‘punishes’ hashers for trail crimes in the Circle (post-run antics) after each run.
  • Grand Master’s Assistant – The person who takes the reigns when the Grand Master or the Religious Advisor cannot.
  • Hash Cash – This role is so important it is unually handled by two Hashers. The collect the cash that the pack give before each Hash to buy beer and munch.

    The Hash Cash doles out this cash to the Beer Meister, Food Meister, Web Meister, Hash Scribe.
  • Hare Raiser – An ‘undercover agitator’ whose role it is to recruit unsuspecting future Hashers.
  • Web Meister – The person in charge of all things web.
  • Beer Meister – Bearer of the golden nectar. Must haves include: Having a large vehicle with a good suspension system to avoid undue foamage.

But remember, each Kennel is different. In some smaller ones, multiple roles can be taken on by individual Hashers, and in larger ones, more roles are added.

men drinking beer in a pub

Hash Names

In most Kennels (Hash groups), using real names is not the done thing. Instead, the Hashers go by Hash Names.

The Chicago Hash House Harriers write:

“In an attempt to protect our Hashing politicians, lawyers, doctors, public servants and other people that may have a position in life that would frown upon Hashing, the Harriers have aliases, usually of debaucherous or humorous nature”.4Naming Process – Chicago Hash House Harriers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2024, from https://chicagohash.org/hashing-tools/hash-song-book/hash-traditions/naming-process/

Hashers are typically named after their appearance, a personality trait, or a stand-out Hashing escapade.

In some Kennels, the Hashers are not named until they have done something notable. And of course, as a drinking club with a running problem, by notable, they probably mean getting up to some post-beer party antics.

Either way, it usually takes 5-10 Hashes for the Hasher to receive their Hash Name, but it can take years if the Hasher in question is ‘boring’.

Before that, Hashers can be referred to as ‘Just (Name),’ ‘No Name (Name)’ (e.g., ‘No Name John’).

Depending on the Kennel, the Hash Names have varying degrees of obscenity. There are family-friendly Kennels, although they are few and far between.

Hash House Harriers in a rural pub in England

The Naming Ceremony

Hashers are named in a naming ceremony that takes place in the Circle (post-run gathering), after a Hash.

The Hasher in question is called to the middle of a circle and other Hash members are given the chance to ask questions.

After the interrogation, the Hasher-to-be-named is taken out of earshot, leaving the rest to discuss names.

The discussion can be democratic, or sometimes the Grand Master simply decides.

After the name has been decided, the Hasher is brought back, given a beer, and made to sit on his knees. The group then reads out a list of the names which were rejected, before stating:

“Henceforth and forever more __________ shall be your home hash and you shall be named _________.”

Then the newly named hasher is ‘baptised’ in beer and made to drink their beer without using their hands.

Hash House Harriers on a red dress run

Meanwhile, the following song is sung:

Here’s to _________,
He’s true blue,
He’s a hasher through and through,

He’s a p*ss-pot,
So they say,

Tried to go to heaven,
But he went the other way.

And Voilá, the newbie is officially a Hash House Harrier.


A Down-Down, derived from the age-old phrase ‘to down a drink’, is a means of rewarding, punishing, or simply recognizing a particular Hasher for almost anything.

The Hasher in question is asked to ‘down’, or ‘chug’ their beer without pause whilst the other Hashers sing the Down-Down song. If they fail to drink the whole beer, they must pour the rest of their drink on their head.

Hash House Harriers

Down-Downs can be positively motivated – to welcome a new member, or for outstanding service.

However, Down-Down’s can also serve as punishment for misdemeanours, whether they are real, or completely fabricated by other hashers.

Commonly, if a Hasher is wearing new shoes to a Hash, they are required to drink from their shoe during a Down-Down.

Often, a large block of ice is used as a seat during a Down-Down ceremony. The Hasher in question must sit on the block of ice as the others sing and they chug.

If the misdemeanour has been particularly egregious, the hasher on the block of ice is often subjected to a long song with many many verses.

The Hash House Harriers Hymn

The Hash Hymn, much like the unofficial rugby anthem, is Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.5Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. (2024, February 8). Wikipedia. https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Swing_Low

Globally, all Hash House Harriers recognise the Hash Hymn and it commands as much respect as possible.

While spin-offs of the song exist among various Kennels, it is one of the few things that remain consistent across the Hashing world.

Hash House Harriers running on grass in dresses

The Red Dress Run

Some chapters hold an annual ‘Red Dress Run’, whereby, you guessed it, all the hashers run wearing red dresses.

It originates from a 1987 hash in southern California, whereby a lady wearing a red dress and heels was brought by an old school friend. One member suggested she wait in the truck until her friend returned, based on her gender and attire.6Red Dress Run. (2024). Tvh3.Co.uk. https://www.tvh3.co.uk/Templates/Red%20Dress%20Run.html

However, she did the exact opposite and completed the hash as she was. The following year, the hashers sent her an airline ticket to the very first red dress run, and from there the tradition was born.

You can also expect to see other special hashes throughout the year, such as the St. Patrick’s Day hash, where of course, all hashers wear green, and special full moon hashes.

Some Words From a Hash House Harrier

I spoke to ‘Teacher’ (whose full hash name is too awful to type out) from El Paso Hash House Harriers about his experience as a Hasher.7HOME. (n.d.). Www.elpasohash.com. Retrieved March 16, 2024, from https://www.elpasohash.com/ Here’s what he had to say.

Me: What is your best hashing memory?

Teacher: Well, out of the memories I CAN recall they are too good to pick just one. But, I would definitely say that my very first Hash would be among the best. It introduced me to so much. The trail, the people, the camaraderie. Almost 20 years in and I only wished I had found it sooner.

Me: Why are you a hasher?

Teacher: Mostly because of the people I’ve met while hashing. The friendships that I’ve made. The experiences with those people.

I like the competitive side of some of my fellow home kennel hashers. Sometimes a hash is the only exercise I’ll be able to get during the week. Also, just being able to grab a beer with them on non-hashing days.

Really, the relationships I’ve formed with these f**king f**ks is what keeps me coming back every week, to both local and non-local events.

a large group of Hash House Harriers assembled

My Personal Troubles with The Hashers

I must say, I was hoping to interview more hashers for this article.

As I’m not a hasher myself, I thought it would be more genuine if I had them weigh in on their own community. However, in my endeavours, I was hit with a roadblock.

I infiltrated 20 Hash House Harriers Facebook groups from all parts of the world, using my HHH research to pass their security questions which would verify me as a Hasher.

Granted, I did initially lie.

However, once inside, I would make my intentions clear. I would write a post saying that I was a writer with Marathon Handbook, that I was working on an article on the Hashing community, and that I was looking for Hashers to talk to.

In each of the 20 Hashing groups which I entered there were at least a few thousand Hashers. But, for the first few days, all I got in return were crickets (apart from trusty Teacher).

Then, after a while, I began to get comments on my posts from Hashers who were calling both me, and Marathon Handbook, racist. One guy wrote;

“Sorry but no respectful Hasher will respond to anyone from an obvious racist website”

Absolutely baffled, I started out on a Google mission to find out what was going on.

It turns out that the Hash House Harriers have a big fat hatred towards running races!
And with their affinity towards shocking and disturbing language, as a community, they label anyone who takes part in races (or even talks about races), a racist.

So with my undeniable connection to running races, and my endorsement of using running training plans, the international Hash House Harriers running community firmly rejected me.

two men drinking beer on st. patrick's day

More Hash content please!

Seeing as Hashers apparently only talk to other insiders (I’m not bitter!), there is a Hash House Harriers podcast run by Hashes which you can listen to.

Click here for the On-On Podcast

This is a pretty exhaustive hashing podcast. They upload a new episode almost every day, sometimes even twice a day, and in each episode of the podcast, a different Hasher is interviewed.

Some of them are very funny, give one a go!

These days, the hashers even have their own Hash Rego site for individual clubs to organize upcoming events and keep in touch.8HashRego | Home. (n.d.). Hashrego.com. Retrieved March 16, 2024, from https://hashrego.com/


Photo of author
Maria Andrews is a runner, adventure lover, and UESCA certified Ultramarathon Coach. When she's not running around the woods or plotting adventures, she's spending time with her nearest and dearest, cooking up a storm, or working on Marathon Handbook's sister website, yogajala.com :)

8 thoughts on “Hash House Harriers: A Drinking Club With a Running Problem”

  1. I very much enjoyed your write up. I first heard of the Hash in South Korea but didn’t run. When I worked in India I joined the Delhi Hash House Harriers and had 3 great years of comradery and a wonderful social life…Then I joined again when I moved to Malaysia and have been running here for 24 yrs…(except when they sent me to Hong Kong, where I ran for 18 months with the Wanchai Hash). Another huge benefit for hashers is that whenever you land up in a strange country, you will find like minded friends and won’t be a stranger for long. — My kids have all run the hash too, In KL we have a junior hash for the under 16’s and mine were in the jungles at 3 months old …albeit carried!!
    Nick “Weathercock” Morss

  2. Indeed on the OnOnPodcast we interview people who started Hashing over 50 years ago as well as people key to organizing some 3000-6000 person events called InterHashes … a whole other part of the hashing experience are nash-hashes (National events) and regional events (EuroHash, PanAsia, InterScandi, InterAmericas, etc.)

  3. Agree with some of the above comments. I’ve been hashing for over 20 yrs, but I also routinely run 5 and 10 k races and have even done a few half marathons. A Chicago kennels has lots of marathoners in it. You could talk to others in different kennels and get more info, they’ll still call you a race-ist, but it’s all in good fun.

  4. Informative and a fun article. However, you neglected mentioning “special event” hashes. Perhaps the most famous to us hashers is the “Red Dress r*n”. The event takes place once a year where generally all participants wear and r*n in a red dress. Oh man what a sight to outsiders!! Other events are “spring formals”, and various themed hashes. On-On!!

  5. I/we regret not joining the Hash in Jeddah. We joined some years later in Cairo CH3 and both got duly named Infectious Disease and my wife Carrier. We did the brew miester job (pisspots) until we left in 2000. We met and made good friends of so many people. Many of which 22 years later we are still in contact spread around the world.

    On On


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