Once a week an eclectic mix of runners meet up somewhere in Yorkshire to follow a trail laid out by one of their number earlier in the day.
Known as hashers, they are members of a non-competitive international running club first formed in 1948 by colonial officers and ex-patriots in what was then Malaya, now Malaysia.
Organised along the lines of the traditional British paper chase, the ‘hare’ leaves an easily identifiable trial marked out in flour, sawdust or chalk and then a group of ‘hounds’ follow it to the finish which is, more often than not, a local pub.
To make it even more fun, and to keep the pack of hounds together, despite their differing levels of fitness and speed, the route will include false trails and dead ends.
Hash groups are as much a social club as a running club with beer drinking and eating an integral part of most events.
The Yorkshire group, was set up in 1981 and Bill ‘Jake the Peg’ Nairn, (everyone has as nickname) has been involved since 1988.
“I first found out about hashing when I was diagnosed with diabetes and the nurse I saw mentioned it as she knew I liked to run - I’ve been involved ever since.
“It’s a strictly non-competitive event and it doesn’t matter how fit you are.
“Those who want to run the route can go to the front and those who want to have a chat with their friends can stay at the back.
“The route is laid out with short cuts and false trails so that everyone can make it to the pub at the same time.”
The Yorkshire hash use flour which is biodegradable and easily washes away afterwards and each hash has their own particular style of markings; these are described before the run to newcomers to the sport and to anyone from a visiting hash.
“Routes may be anything from three or four miles to six or seven and they can go just about anywhere”, says Bill.
“Our ages range from late 30s to late 60s and you don’t need to be at all fit to take part, as long as you can stagger round you can join in.
“Where there are routes that are a little more strenuous there will be an alternative route for walkers to follow.”
The group attracts around 10 to 20 members on a regular mid-week hash but as many as 70 to 100 can turn up at one of the special events held around three times a year.
If you’d like to experience hashing for yourself, the Yorkshire Hash House Harriers have their next event this Sunday, April 19, at 11am.
Meeting point is the Crown Inn at Addingham and there will be a walking route as well as a medium trail and a runners challenge.
More details about this, and other scheduled events, can be found on the on the group’s website at www.yorkshirehash.net/
THE HASH HOUSE HARRIERS
Founding fathers: The first ever hash took place in December 1938 in Selayang Quarry, Selangor, Malaya.
The restaurant at the Selangor Club where the ex-patriots frequented was known locally as the “Hash House” so the name was adopted by the harriers .
UK Hash: The first UK hash was in May 1969 in Hampshire
Growth: By 2000 there were 1,570 active hashes known in 184 countries with 200,000 hashers