12 June 1979

History of Hashing

The following has been adapted from various sources but the advice relates more specifically to Wilton Hash House rules - many clubs use variants on these but we keep it simple (like the members).
What is a Hash?
A HASH is a non-competitive cross-country or road run, following a marked trail, suitable for people of all ages and persuasions, and set by one or more runners called HARES. The rest of the hash (the PACK of hounds) follow the trail to eventual relaxation and fulfilment, courtesy of one of our finest licensed establishments.
Legend has it that HASHING was started by British expatriates in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938. "Hash House" is the nickname of the restaurant/bar to which they retired for food and beer after a run. Hashing is loosely based on the English schoolboy game known as "Hare and Hounds."
A Good Course
A good course should be about 4 miles in length and take around 1 hour to complete. It is marked by white flour, sawdust, in fact anything biodegradable and visible. A really good course gets the slowest hashers to the ON-INN (finish) first and leaves the FRB's ("front-running b******s") stuck in SHIGGY (ponds, mud, tarpools, quicksand, etc.) until 'time' is called at the APRES (post-run observance). Strictly speaking there are few rules, but we follow these fairly typical hashing conventions:
At the usual start time and at the appointed public house, the Hare(s) explain the hash marks (see below) to any VIRGINS (VIRGIN HASHERS = first-timers with the pack, or VIRGIN LAYS = first time hares) and then the pack starts looking for the trail. Arrows at the start should indicate true trail direction for late comers. The trail is marked with BLOBS of flour or sawdust. The pack should call out "On-On" when they see a blob. The most musically gifted member of the pack is labelled HASH-HORN, and using a bugle, whistle or other loud instrument, is encouraged to keep the hounds together, especially on dark and stormy nights. N.B. avoid musical alerts in the vicinity of horseriders, livestock and those of a nervous disposition.
The run always starts with a CHECK - a circle indicating that the trail goes any of several possible ways and the pack must search for true trail. Hounds should call out "RU?" (are you on trail?) of the FRB's and should be answered "On 1, ...On 2" (depending on how many blobs they find after the check). When 3 blobs have been seen, or wildly imagined, the trail has been found and "On-On" is the cry. When the next Check is found the lucky hound calls "Checking" and the process starts again. Some clubs terminate false trails with a letter F. Wilton lets the pack wander about aimlessly until they figure it out for themselves, or uses a BAR (a line on the trail) to indicate a dead-end. A CHECKBACK is a variation on a CHECK, often found atop, or at the foot of, a mighty hill. It is marked by a circle with a cross inside. After finding a CHECKBACK, the hounds will have to return to the previous CHECK to re-establish the correct route, and discuss the matter with the contrite Hare. If a trail doubles back on itself a DOUBLE-CHECK can be used (a circle within a circle) to indicate a check is to be used twice at different points on the trail.
In the latter stages, some trails may include a shortcut to the On-Inn, so that FRB's can demonstrate their presumed fitness, while the more leisurely hashers get to the pub with less perspiration and more fragrance.
Aprés at the Pub
The Aprés provides the rehydration and snack-based nutrition crucial to the post-exercise recovery of finely honed athletes. HASH CASH collects a fixed sum of money from each participant to cover expenses incurred at the Aprés.
During the Hash, a 'volunteer' is chosen to give the HASH CRIT. After HASH-HUSH is called, an expansive critique of the run is given, heaping praise and humiliation in equal amounts on the Hare and the Pack. The Hash's Joint Master or Religious Advisor presides over DOWN-DOWNS; non-stop downing of a drink mixed to a secret formula (non-alcoholic in the case of driving recipients) while the hash serenades* the luckless victim(s). Theoretically you must upturn the glass on your head if you can't finish the down-down.
During the Aprés, virgin hashers are given tasteful new nick-names (HASH HANDLES), and other significant occasions are celebrated, e.g. hasher's birthday or milestone runs. Down-downs may also be ordered for transgressors such as hashers with annoying personalities, those caught shortcutting or missing out checks (BLOB-SLIDING), or for any other reason!