If you mention the words “red dress run” to someone and they don’t know what it means, they obviously have never heard of hashing. The Hash House Harrier tagline is “a drinking club with a running problem”. Even though there are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs around the world, it’s still a secret to most people. Even for those who have heard of it, the club remains a mystery.
Almost any day of the year, in almost any part of the world there’s probably a Hash going on somewhere. There are about 2000 Hash House Harrier chapters on all 7 continents. Each chapter usually has between 20 and 100 members. The running events are all non-competitive and almost all involve running and beer, usually at the same time.
The Hash House Harriers running club was started in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur. The idea of hashing was suspended during the war and Japanese occupation, shortly after the war it resumed again and hasn’t slowed down since. There are clubs with men, women, men and women, and ones with families and kids.
The hash begins with the “hares” laying down a trail and is followed by the “hounds” trying to stay on the trail without running into false trails and dead ends. The end of the trail is often called the On-After or the On-Down and is where everyone gets a chance to socialize. Along the way there are usually beer stops (beer checks) and some beer drinking on the run. The most common term they use is “on-on”, which means they are on the right trail. It’s also the logo used by hashers, along with the symbol of a human foot.
Hashers will often carry whistles or loud horns to communicate with each other. Many hashes allow costumes, like the famous Red Dress Run, which is usually held annually by different chapters. Legend has it that a woman showed up at a hash wearing a red dress, unaware that it was a running event, but she wore the dress anyway. Now hashers of both sexes wear a red dress at these events, which draw large crowds in every major city.
The hash ends with something called the “circle”. This is a more formal gathering where hashers socialize, sing drinking songs, get their new hash names, and catch up on the latest hash news. Before you’ve officially been given your hash name you will be referred to as no name.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, a hash is mostly just a fun, non competitive way to blow off some steam, get some exercise, and of course, drink some beer!