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 Problem, and 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.
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!
Let’s jump in!
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.
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, and desert, all in search of exercise, camaraderie, and good times.”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 actually originated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938 when a group of British colonial officers started a Hare and Hounds running group.
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 starts off first, 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 Hares mission is to reach the designated endpoint without being caught. The Hounds goal is to catch the Hare.
Whoever catches the Hare gets to chose the next Hare, and if the Hare wins, they choose.
- Related: The Ultimate Sober October Guide
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.
The Hash House Harriers Vocab- Decoded
This running group almost has its own internal language.
Here is a list of some HHH vocab:
|A Hash, or a Run, or a Hash Run.||An event organised by a HHH club.|
|Hashing||Doing a Hash, a Run, or a Hash Run.|
|Hashers||Those who take part in HHH events.|
|Harriers||Male HHH members.|
|Harriets||Female HHH members.|
|Down-Down Songs||Chants sung following an accusation.|
|A Hash Kennel||A group that regularly meets to Hash.|
|A Circle or Religion||The post-run antics.|
|On-In||The venue where the trail ends and the party begins.|
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.
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
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 presife over post-trail ceremonies.
- Religious Advisor – The person who ‘punishes’ hashers for trail crimes in the Circle (post-run antics) after each run.
- Grand Masters Assistant – 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’ whos role it is to recruit unsuspecting future Hashers.
- Web Meister – 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 foam-age.
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.
In most Kennels (Hash groups), using real names is not the done thing. Instead, the Hashers go by Hash Names.
“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“.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
My personal trouble with 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 around 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.
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.
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!