Posts Tagged ‘Illinois Hash House Harriers’

If you Google Hash House Harriers Clubs, you’ll get a wide range of explanations, stories, and tall-tales about what exactly the sport is, where it originated, and how to play.  There are a few common threads throughout the international H3 clubs though, and I’ll try to distill them here.


The generally accepted origins of Hash House Harriers are all based on the old English tradition of hunting with hounds.  Hunters set off on horses with their dogs chasing after game, especially foxes or hares.  A person who hunted hares was referred to as a “Harrier.”  The school-aged sons of the hunters would play a game called Paper Chase that emulated the hunters.  The boys would take the place of either the hounds, which would chase the game, or the hares, which would leave a trail of bits of paper for the hounds to follow.  The first adult versions of the game took place in the late 1860s.  Those first clubs were known as “Hare and Hounds” or simply “Harrier” clubs.

Hares leave clues like this H arrow with a roof!

The colonial British brought this traditional game to Kuala Lumpur (now Malaysia) in the 1930s, and a man named Albert Stephen Ignatius Gispert (or “G” to his friends) gathered up a group of his business buddies and formed a harrier group. Because any club was required to be registered, G’s group took the nickname name of the Selangor Club where the businessmen frequently ate.  The establishment was infamous for its lackluster food so it was commonly called the Hash House.  Voila! The Hash House Harrier Club was formed.


The original charter of the Hash House Harriers included the lofty goals of promoting physical fitness among members by running, helping members to rid themselves of a week of overindulgence (read: beer), working up a good thirst and quenching it (also read: beer), and to persuade members that they were not as old as they felt (probably because of beer.)


The organizers of the 500 US clubs and countless international clubs often refer to themselves as the “mismanagement.”  Hashes can be set up anywhere, any time, but most clubs have a schedule that has them meet every month or so.  A Hash can take lots of forms, but generally a single runner or small group of runners will be deemed the Hares.  The Hares will have a head start on the Hounds, and they will lay a trail for the Hounds to follow.  There can be lots of complications to the trail such as dead ends, backtracking, crossing creeks, or places where the pack must pick one side of a fork and hope they’re right.  The goal of the Hares is to avoid capture, while the goal of the Hounds is to capture the Hares.  The length of the trail is not predetermined, but is often in the 3 to 6 mile range.   When a member of the Hounds has picked up the trail, they’re to yell “On-on!” to let the rest of the pack know where the Hares have gone.


The Hannibal Hash House Harrier Event was held in November and organized by the Heartland Road Runners Club.

Though H3 clubs across the world are all a little different, they all seem to have one thing in common: Love of Beer.  Most Hashes end with all of the members gathering afterwards for beer and camaraderie, and many Hashes have beer stops en-route during the event.


The first time I’d heard of the Hash House Harriers was this November, when the Heartland Road Runners Club held a Hash in Hannibal, MO.  We don’t have a proper club (yet) but the event was a success, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Hashes in 2012.  But if you want to give Hashing a try sooner, a couple of Quincy guys have organized a Day-After-Christmas event called the Q-Town Harriers Holiday Hash Dash!  The event will begin at 2 pm at the New Hampshire Bar (10th and Hampshire), and the Hares will be leading the way from there.  Bring your running shoes and a few bucks for beer, and share in the holiday spirit(s). Everyone is welcome; 21 and up to drink!  For more information on this event, check out the Facebook page by clicking here!

Happy Hashing everyone!

*Photos by Doug Seeber

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