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If a book about failures doesn't sell, is it a success?
"Cool hash page"
December 2002

What Hashing Is!

The Hash is more like a social event with several traditions, no rules and some whiners say borders on hazing. What it is, is a hound and hare chase, consisting of a Hare that lays a trail of flour or shards of paper as trail markers, and marks on the ground that are meant to slow the down the Hounds. The intent of the Hounds or the pack is to catch the Hare, if they are unsuccessful at that, then at least make it to the finish where there are refreshments, (read as beer). Many Hashes partake in song and ceremony at the end of such runs, bequeathing such honors as Front Running Bastard/Bitch (FRB), Dead Ass/At Last (DAL), and the Hash-it or Ha-shit. The former being issued to somebody who has committed a crime against the Hash. Crimes vary from Hash to Hash. Anything as simple as holding hands with a significant other, to private partying while the Grand Master speaks, to littering, etc... you get my drift, any excuse to not carry the Hashit is usually good enough to get it passed on to another.

Any contributions to What Hashing Is!, are welcome, please send feedback to

The following passage was stolen from

About Hashing

The HASH HOUSE HARRIERS is a social club of runners that have been described as "a drinking club with a running problem." Ex-pat British businessmen, accountants, lawyers, civil servants, etc., started the HASH in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is a club based on the old English game of hares and hounds where one or two members would be given several minutes head start and would drop shredded paper as the "scent". The hounds would then follow, after the prescribed time, and attempt to catch the hares. The hares would lay the trail in a straight or obvious line, but then would stop laying trail and run off in another direction and begin laying the trail after 100 meters or so. When the hounds discovered that they were no longer on trail, they would fan out in all directions in search of the "scent" and would call to the others when the trail was once again discovered. The founder of the HASH, A. S. "G" Gispert, in 1937 discovered the Springgit Harriers, one of the paper chase clubs, in Malacca. He introduced Ronald "Torch" Bennett to the concept and the stage was set. When "G" returned to Kuala Lumpur in 1938, he became a member of the Federated Malay States Volunteer Reserves, which trained on Mondays. "G" and many of the other ex-pat Brits were housed in barracks in the Royal Selangor Club where he and "Torch" would often discuss starting a harrier club in KL (Kuala Lumpur). Finally in about December of 1938, "G" convinced about a dozen others to follow his inaugural paper trail. Gispert then suggested the name of HASH HOUSE HARRIERS in mock allusion to the mess at the Selangor Club, where many of them dined. The runs were held Monday evenings after reserve training and were followed by refreshment of Tiger beer. A. S. "G" Gispert was killed in battle defending Singapore from the Japanese at 0400 hours 11 February 1942. The HASH has grown from those humble beginnings to include thousands of chapters and tens of thousands of hashers worldwide.

Much of the information presented above comes from the book "On On! Run #2 Hash House Harriers 1938-1992" by Harrier International and the late Tim "Magic" Hughes, Phhh.D.

About Red Dress Runs

The following page was also stolen from

Dress Code
The latest race sensation has simple rules: you gotta wear red,
and it's gotta be a dress


It's 30 minutes till starting time, and over 400 runners are gathered beside glimmering San Diego Bay. My palms are sweaty in anticipation, but it's not the 6-mile course that's causing my anxiety. It's the size-18 red dress I'm wearing, altered somewhat to accommodate my, shall we say, full figure.

No, I'm not some kind of weirdo. I didn't actually go shopping for the dress myself. I talked my sister-in-law into that. At any rate, I'm no stranger than the other runners - male and female, young and old - who are also preparing to run in red dresses of various design.

Some are floor-length, others are ultra-mini. A couple of young women with the figures for it sport lingerie. A retired army colonel, who decidedly does not have the figure for it, has squeezed into a red bodysuit and matching tutu. Nearby, a burly man with a mustache is having his nails painted candy-apple red by a female friend.

Welcome to the Ninth Annual Red Dress Run, an officially unofficial run sponsored by the San Diego Hash House Harriers, an international group of politically incorrect "beer drinkers with a running problem," as many "hashers" describe themselves. This particular event in San Diego is actually part of a Labor Day weekend of activities including three hash runs and at least that many beer bashes.

Journalists are trained to go where the story is, but I have to admit to having some reluctance about this red dress I'm wearing. Not that it's unattractive - I imagine the sash, if left untied, will trail behind me, giving the illusion of great speed.  Still, I have one major hang-up.

Ever since I agreed to do the run, I've had a recurring nightmare in which my 3-year-old daughter, Kelley, is a grown woman lying on a leather sofa in the cool dim light of a therapist's office. I listen in horror as she explains how everything started to unravel when her father began running in a red dress . . .

I push the thought from my mind, finish my second prerace beer - not to worry, it's light - and pony up to the start. The dress feels slinky on my shoulders. I'm ready to go. Unlike your neighborhood 10-K, hashing is more of a kid's game (it's actually based on one), where runners follow a marked trail through city streets, parks, shopping malls, bars, you name it.

I had heard about hashing several years earlier but only last summer got up the courage to join a Pennsylvania group for a run. I found their social, fun-filled approach - the word "race" is never used, and not winners are crowned - a welcome change from the guys at my local track who prattle on about their stride lengths and resting heart rates. And despite the relaxed atmosphere, I also discovered that these hashers could run (and drink and sing) circles around almost anyone.

Though I found the Pennsylvania hash relatively tame - a 5-mile loop with one beer stop and a party afterward - I soon learned of many special hash events around the country (and world) that can get pretty wacky. The Red Dress Run is perhaps the best-known, but others, such as Palm Springs's annual beer-soaked Betty Ford run or San Francisco's Gay to Flakers (held on the same day as the better-known Bay to Breakers), are gaining popularity. None of them, however, are for the easily offended.

As the Red Dress Run begins and we move away from San Diego Bay, I fell surprisingly comfortable. True, my dress poses some unique chafing problems, but the sky is a flawless blue, and a steady breeze dissipates the sun's heat. Like a huge red amoeba, the hash run ambles past stunned tourists.

"What's goin' on?" asks a young guy in Bermuda shorts.

"It's a fund-raiser for Al Gore," replies a male hasher in a fetching sheath.

"We're running for illiteracy," chimes in another. Finally, someone explains that it's the hashers' annual Red Dress Run.

"Oh, how wonderful," a middle-aged woman coos, lifting her disposable camera to squeeze off a shot.

"Let's go," her husband snorts, pushing at the nosepiece on his glasses. "I left L.A. to get away from this kind of crap."


As we turn off the main drag, I pick up the flour-and-shredded-paper markings of the hash trail. Three dots in a row indicate that I'm on the trail, but when we get to an intersection, I see a quartered circle. This is called a "checkpoint" in hashing lexicon, and it means that the trail could fan out in any direction  from this spot. The idea is that the fastest runners, who naturally will reach the checkpoints first, are going to get hopelessly lost as they try to figure out where the dickens they should go.

While they explore, uncovering many "false trails" or dead-ends, the slower runners (like me) have a chance to catch up. This simple system gives hashing its universal appeal. Swiftness of foot is nice if you happen to possess it. But in the end, it doesn't net you much.

At the first checkpoint I look around for the runners in front of me. They have fanned out in all directions trying to pick up the "true trail."

"Are you?" yells out a woman in red-sequined sneakers, inquiring if anyone has found the trail.

"Checking, checking," comes the reply as runners scan the pavement. This is hash talk which means, loosely translated, "I'm looking, and if you come help, I may buy you a beer at the next bar." A few find one or two dots - false trails - but within seconds I hear a hearty "On-on," the hashers' signature call to indicate that the trail has been located. The "Hash Horn" a runner designated to carry and blow an ancient bugle, coaxes a tortured bleat from his instrument, and the pack quickly reforms and flows toward Balboa Park.

After a few steps, I fall in line with a navy-enlisted man who is running like a saddle-sore cowboy. "Damned thong," he gripes, reaching under his skimpy skirt for an on-the-run adjustment. "I shouldn't have listened when those women told me to wear this. How do they stand having something, you know, there?" He alters his stride to make the garment less obtrusive and, getting more comfortable, begins to expound on why so many hashers are former or current military members. The reason, he explains, is that hashing was founded by a soldier.


A. S. Gilbert to be exact. A British officer stationed in Kuala Lumpur in 1938, Gilbert called a group of bored British and Australian colonial officials into regular Monday afternoon runs to purge the toxins ingested over their weekend bacchanalias. After each run, Gilbert and friends would settle into a local restaurant called the Selangor Club - known affectionately as the Hash House -for a big meal.

To liven up the exercise, the men began to patter their runs after an old English children's game called "Hares and Hounds."  First, a trail is set by a "hare," using flour and bits of paper. Then the pack of "hounds" follows the markings along the challenging course, trying to find the hare. Before long, Gilbert's group adopted the name Hash House Harriers (a "harrier" being a hound who chases hares).

The group grew steadily, thanks in part to the enterprising restaurant owner. To ensure that this new boon to his bottom line would continue, the owner began carting tubs of iced beer to the halfway point of the group workout. The runners would take a break for a beer, complete the run, then hustle over to the Hash House to get on the outside of a few more chilly ones.

The postrun parties, known as Down-Downs, were filled with jokes, limericks, ribald songs and ceremonies, where new hashers were knighted with horrible nicknames, a practice that continues to the present. Everyone had such a good time that they soon forgot about Gilbert's original intent - to have a drying-out period after the weekend.

The original group was small, but as the soldiers were reassigned back to England and the British Empire, and as new recruits rotated in, the tradition of the Hash House Harriers expanded around the globe. Chapters can now be found in nearly every major city in the world, from STockholm to Tokyo. There are an estimated 900 chapters and 100,000 hashers worldwide.


As I chug up an impossibly steep hill toward Balboa Park, the pack has thinned, and I begin to tire. I feel a little odd running by myself as I approach an older Hispanic woman sitting on a bench in a pink housecoat, a Chihuahua with a rhinestone collar perched on her lap. As I pas, I nod hello. "Ooooooooh," she purrs with a wide smile, "nice." Feeling downright pretty, I surge over the crest of the hill and into the park for our second refreshment stop.

I had passed up a shot of tequila at the first refreshment stop, opting instead for a cup of water. I reasoned that I had already tempted the gods of gastrointestinal distress by having a breakfast of huevos rancheros (with jalapenos) at a sidewalk cafe in Coronado. But now, at the second stop, I'm ready for another beer. I quickly wheel into the shade of a huge palm tree and pluck a Miller Genuine Draft from a cooler.

Plenty of other hashers join me, bantering about the course and commenting on each other's attire.  I strike up a conversation with Pete Whitby, a computer specialist known as "Wet Meat," and his wife, Becky, an accountant whose moniker is "Hot Pink Hooters." They were one of three couples I met in San Diego who had a hash wedding, complete with a "flour" girl to lead the way down the aisle.

"I think a lot of hashers are fairly conservative, buttoned-down people most of the time," Mr. Meat tells me a he drains his beer. "This is just a great outlet. The people become like a second family to you." Well, I think, a second highly dysfunctional family, perhaps.

Hooters, an amazingly normal woman for someone who hangs out with these nuts, fills me in on the history of the Red Dress Run. She explains that it was founded in San Diego by a group of hashers who, after traveling to Los Angeles for a run, were kicked out of a bar and wound up in someone's hot tub. One of the guys brought along a young woman wearing a red dress - and little else - who happily joined the party. All night long, she was showered with attention by Pat "Zulu Boy" Holmes and his pals, whose dates were not amused.

The slightly annoyed dates, and some other men who had heard about the hot-tub caper, decided this was the perfect time to take a not-so-subtle jab at Zulu, so they all showed up at the next hash wearing red dresses. A tradition was quickly born, and Red Dress runs are now held all over the world. "It's really taken off," says Zulu Boy himself, wearing a Scarlet O'Hara number with lace and an open back. "I tell you, I'll never forget that girl in the red dress."


After finishing my beer and tossing the empty bottle into a trash bag, I move off along Balboa Drive, past a playground where kids stop to gawk and volleyball games come to a halt. I cut down an alley and enter the Hillcrest District, a predominantly gay neighborhood, where our support picks up.  "Of course they love us," says one hasher running nearby. "If it weren't for those of us who are straight, they wouldn't be gay."

"It relates to what's so great about Hashes," adds Richard "Wanker" Saxby, a native Brit who now lives in Long Beach. "When we're hashing, we all get along because we pick on everyone equally: Arabs-Israelis, Catholics-Protestants and gays-straights." )Memo to Madeleine Albright: sign up Arafat and Netanyahu for the Jerusalem Hash.)

After another mile or so, we have our last beer stop at Mission Bay Park before hitting a downhill stretch to the end of the run - a United Auto Workers' local union hall. As I jog to a stop beside the squat cinderblock building, I feel great, more like I've run 2 miles instead of 6. Inside is a huge buffet with carved ham, chick, rolls, potation salad, coleslaw and, you guessed it, several kegs of beer.

After eating our fill, we all head outside to watch the run's two grand masters, Mark "Bushtrimmer" Lawless and John "Who the . . . ." Graf, lead the traditional postrun "Down-Down." For the next 30 minutes, hashers are singled out for various "infractions" - such as getting lost or having a birthday - and are required, among other things, to sit on a block of ice bare-bunned and chug beer out of their shoes. As a journalist, I'm singled out and blamed for the death of Princess Diana. I get off fairly easy, though. I drain my plastic cup of beer while the group sings one of its signature toasts:

    Here's to Bill, he's a real fine guy.
    Here's to Bill, he's a real fine guy.
    So drink, chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug.
    Here's to Bill, he's a real horse's ass.

After the Down-Down, a band begins to play, and I wonder if the union leaders know that hundreds of people in red dresses are drinking and dancing in their hallowed building. What would Jimmy Hoffa think? When the band begins playing Jimmy Buffett, I'm pulled into a conga line, kicking and shouting with the rest of the wackos. A few hours later, I leave the party drenched in sweat and walk back toward my hotel. Along the way, I spot a car with an open window. Giggling at the possible repercussions, I peel off my red dress and toss it into the back seat.


The next morning, I blink myself awake and take a quick inventory. Legs a little sore from the steep hills, back a little tight from the conga, skin a little raw from the aforementioned chafing. But otherwise, I'm feeling good, so I decide to join the morning's recovery run (no dress required).

The group gathered for the workout looks like your local club members getting together for a Sunday morning run. Tanned and fit, they move about easily, if a tad bleary-eyed, stretching and sipping steaming coffee from Styrofoam cups.

I hardly recognize John "Flashpants" Thelan, one of the organizers of the run, without his huge, floppy red hat. While beer figures prominently in hashing, it's not essential, and Flash, who doesn't drink, is proof that you don't have to imbibe to take part and have fun.

A few brave souls choose a 7-mile course, while most of us opt for 3 miles. The run circles through a residential area and into funky Mission Beach, which is filled with coffee bars and surfboard shops, before ending at a wooden roller coaster by the ocean. Hashers grab their tickets and climb aboard, careening around the wooden rails, whooping and hollering. A barbecue, complete with tortillas, refried beans and a huge roast pig wearing a tin-foil crown, materializes across the street - by the bay - the perfect place for weary hashers to loll about on the green grass, reliving the weekend.

After another Down-Down, the group begins to disperse, and I'm struck by how normal everyone looks without their outrageous get-ups. This could be a block party at any subdivision in America. Or could it? As I turn and head toward my rental car, I hear a hasher behind me.
"Hey," he yells, his voice edged with mischief. "Anyone want to go to Tijuana?"
[End of Article - Runner's World, March 1998]


Editor's Notes:

This boy gets an F in history, and a D- in reporting. Here are some corrections to his story:

  • Hashing was not founded by a soldier, it was founded by an accountant.
  • The accountant's name was not "Gilbert", it was "Gispert."
  • The Selangor Club is not a restaurant, it's a private club - you know, proposer, two seconders, a committee interview, etc. A lot of early hashers were members.
  • The Hash House was the bachelor chambers across the street from the Selangor Club.
  • KL Hash trails were set exclusively with paper - four inch by four inch squares - and never with flour.
  • The "restaurant owner" never existed. The Hash contracted with the local soft drinks and beer company, Fraser and Neave, to supply beverages and ice. Initially these were hauled to the On In site by the Hash. As the quantities they consumed steadily grew larger, F&N dispatched a van with the beverages and ice to the On In site. The van would arrive by the starting time. The driver and his assistant would load the beer into the tub, then chip the ice blocks into smaller bits, which cooled the beer and soft drinks quite nicely by the time we returned.
  • There were occasional beer checks on the KL Hash, but only if the Hares went to extraordinary lengths to get the beer into the jungle, or rubber plantation, or wherever we ran. It was rather unusual.
  • The "postrun parties" were never known as Down-Downs, but were known as the On-On.
  • New Hashers were never given nicknames. The barbaric practice of awarding nicknames to every Tom, Dick, and Harry originated in Australia or California. There were a few - a very small few - who acquired nicknames, but their nicknames were earned and generally were lifelong rather than invented.
  • Gispert's original intention was never to dry out; to the contrary, it was a way of extending the drinking and whoring which started sometime the previous week.
  • Soldiers had little to do with spreading the Hash. Although there was (and still is) a Hash at Port Dickson near the military camp, most of the Hashes were civilian affairs. There were more Hashes started by the reassignment of bankers from the Hongkong Bank,  Standard Chartered Bank, let alone planters, accountants, and other ne'er do wells, than ever were started by soldiers.
  • He's way off on the number of chapters - it's closer to 2,000.  As for the 100,000 Hashers world wide, that's fifty Hashers per chapter. He could be right. For once.
Take a look at San Diego Hash's home page and check out the pictures of the 1997 Red Dress Run!

To be fair, here's the link for Runners World

Halve Mein Hash House Harriers, Established 2000. All Rights Reserved. @@