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Monday, February 25, 2008

Hashing and Taper Time's a Com'in!

Last weekend, during our trip to Arkansas, Gena was telling me about the St. Louis Hash House Harriers and invited me to come to one of their hashes. What is a hash, you say? Here's a brief history and definition from the June '95 issue of Hawaii RacePlace Magazine:

"Hashing . . . it's a mixture of athleticism and sociability, hedonism and hard work, a refreshing escape from the nine-to-five dweebs you're stuck with five days a week. Hashing is an exhilaratingly fun combination of running, orienteering, and partying, where bands of harriers and harriettes chase hares on eight-to-ten kilometer-long trails through town, country, and desert, all in search of exercise, camaraderie, and good times.

Hashing began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938, when a group of British colonial officials and expatriates founded a running club called the Hash House Harriers. They named the group after their meeting place, the Selangor Club, nicknamed the "Hash House." Hash House Harrier runs were patterned after the traditional British paper chase. A "hare" was given a head start to blaze a trail, marking his devious way with shreds of paper, all the while pursued by a shouting pack of "harriers." Only the hare knew where he was going . . . the harriers followed his clues to stay on trail. Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and solving the clues, reaching the end was its own reward . . . for there, thirsty harriers would find a tub of iced-down beer.

Hashing died out during World War II (Japanese occupying forces being notoriously anti-fun) but picked up in the post-war years, spreading through the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand . . . then exploding in popularity in the mid-70s. Today there are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs in all parts of the world, with newsletters, directories, and even regional and world hashing conventions.

Hashing hasn't strayed far from its Kuala Lumpur roots. A typical hash today is a loosely-organized group of 20-40 men and women who meet weekly or biweekly to chase the hare. We follow chalk, flour, or paper, and the trails are never boring . . . we run streets and back alleyways, but we also ford streams, climb fences, explore storm drains, and scale cliffs. And although some of today's health-conscious hashers may shun cold beer in favor of water or diet sodas, trail's end is still a celebration and a party."

So yesterday, after my long run, I decided to check it out for myself and joined Gena, her sister Carrie and Jeremy for the fun and festivities. The hash took place in University City and wandered all over the area, across Delmar and then headed back up Maryland where it ended at CJ Mugg's in Clayton; it was about 5.5 total miles. There was a beer stop (or water, in my case) half way through the course and the trail was marked with fruit loops so you could see it in the snow. Picture a group of adults running through neighborhoods, blowing whistles and yelling "Are You On?" as passer's by wonder what the heck we are doing, oblivious to our little game. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed meeting a whole crew of new people even though I don't know their real names (they have Hash nicknames which tend to be a bit rude and crude, but funny); they also had plenty of soda and water for hashers, like myself, who don't drink alcohol. Since Sunday is my long run day I don't know that I'll participate regularly in these hashes but it's definitely a nice break from the more serious side of running where pace and mileage matter.

Taper Time's a Com'in!
One more week and then I begin tapering for the 3 Days of Syllamo Stage Race which is March 14-16 in Mountain View, AR. The picture above shows you exactly what I'll be doing; not much of anything except for kicking back with my feet up! I've been averaging over 70 miles per week for the past 3 months so this rest period is definitely needed; my legs have been feeling REALLY heavy lately and I can tell my body needs some time to repair. This will be a relatively short taper; I'll still run 40-50 miles during my lowest mileage week (3/3-9) but won't run at all 3/11-13. I can't afford to do a full on taper since I still have the McNaughton 100 Miler in April and need to maintain my training for it.

Hope all of you are doing well and Happy Running,


kelly said...

Happy tapering and good luck at McNaughton! Sounds like your training has been going well. Wow, 70 miles a week!! I'm tired already!!

Anonymous said...

Good luck with your tapper. Well if things don't heal up for me in time I may be punting this year at 3 Days. I hate ice and snow and everyhting about the winter.