Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our first Hash

Hash House Harriers.  Ever heard of this group?  Many cruisers are familiar with this  organization whose members or participants are called hashers.  We have seen hash groups in Grenada and across the globe in Malaysia; it is world round, even in Hanoi.

Borrowing from Wikipedia, here is a explanation (I have removed the usual Wikipedia links):

"Hashing originated in December 1938 in Kula Lumpur, then in the Federated Malay States  (now Malaysia), when a group of British colonial officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British Paper Chase or "Hare and Hounds", to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend. The original members included, Albert Stephen (A.S.) Ignatius "G" Gispert, Cecil Lee, Frederick "Horse" Thomson, Ronald "Torch" Bennett and John Woodrow. A. S. Gispert suggested the name "Hash House Harriers" after theSelangor Club Annex, where several of the original hashers happened to live, known as the "Hash House" where they also dined.
After the end of World War II in an attempt to organize the city of Kuala Lumpur, they were informed by the Registrar of Societies that as a "group," they would require a Constitution. Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and finding the trail, harriers reaching the end of the trail would partake of beer, ginger beer and cigarettes.
The objectives of the Hash House Harriers as recorded on the club registration card dated 1950:
  • To promote physical fitness among our members
  • To get rid of weekend hangovers
  • To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
  • To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel
Hashing died out during World War II shortly after the invasion of Malaya, but was restarted in 1946 after the war by several of the original group, minus A. S. Gispert, who was killed on 11 February 1942 in the Japanese invasion of Singapore, an event commemorated by many chapters by an annual Gispert Memorial Run.
The second hash group to form was by Gus Mackey on the Italian Riviera, named the Bordighera H3.  In 1962, Ian Cumming founded the third chapter in Singapore. The idea eventually spread through the Far East and the South Pacific, Europe, North America, and rapidly expanding during the mid-1970s.
At present, there are almost two thousand chapters in all parts of the world, with members distributing newsletters, directories, and magazines and organizing regional and world Hashing events. As of 2003, there are even two organized chapters operating in Antarctica."

Jean, Judy & Harvey
So, in a nutshell, this is a running/walking group that likes to drink beer and have fun.  We participated in the Oludeniz Hash House Harrier group at the invitation of our port side dock neighbors, Harvey and Jean aboard S/V Guitar.  Harvey and Jean own a flat nearby and winter in Fethiye, sailing the Med the rest of the year.  They have sailed over 90,000 miles in Guitar, circumnavigating twice.  And they are a lovely, friendly couple.   

When we arrived at the appointed location for this particular 'hash' at the entry there was a banner sign in Turkish which translated "Farm of the Sacrificial Goat."  Jean said when we finished the hash maybe all us old goats were going to have our throats symbolically slashed.  Soon about 60 people had gathered and instructions were provided for the course to be followed.  It sounded pretty straightforward -- follow the splashes of white flour on the ground that marked the direction to proceed.  We would encounter a circle of flour when paths converged.  There usually are several false paths to confuse the runners in the front of the pack.  Once determining the correct path, a runner is supposed to mark the circle of flour (kick up a space in the dirt) so that people following will know which direction to go.

I knew from the day this invitation to participate was extended that I would not be doing any running.  I do not run.  Ever. Under any circumstances. Period.  Even when I was young and very fit I hated running.  Absolutely out of the question today in my old age.  So, as I would be bringing up the rear, the path would be clear to me.....just follow the butts in front.  Bill opted to walk with me.  He used to be a runner and might have enjoyed a little bit of running this day, but I think he was happy to walk with me.  That spring is no longer in his knees.  This group was mostly old people like us and most people walked.  There were only 4 runners going uphill and 6 runners downhill.  We started out in the middle of the group but soon dropped back near the rear.  Only a half-dozen or so people were behind us walking up the hill.

Sad to admit, but I never made it to the top of the hill.  Supposedly there was a beautiful view from up there but we missed it.  The path was flat for a short distance and then began a continual incline of probably only 15 to 20 degrees.  That was enough to get my heart to pumping (and backwashing because of the prolapsed mytral valve).  Soon I was completely out of breath and stopping for rest breaks.  Guess I made it maybe 2/3 of the way before the route circled back.  This prolapsed mytral valve has never given me any trouble except for getting out of breath on any inclines.  When climbing castle steps high on the mountain in Cyprus last spring, I felt chest pains for the first time and decided to stop the exertion.  Walking up this incline for 45 minutes caused those same chest pains, so I again stopped the exertion.  My new self-imposed rule is that I can do any physical activity (even when it causes all the huffing and puffing) until chest pains start.  Then I stop and rest, whatever the activity.

I stopped and said it was time for me to turn around a few minutes before one of the runners from the front of the pack passed by on his return.  He said the last part was extremely steep, so I am glad I had decided to stop at that point.  If I couldn't handle a 15 - 20 degree incline that the runners considered nothing, there was no way I could make it up an incline that they considered extremely steep.  I wasn't the only one who didn't make it to the top of the hill.  Four others stopped in the same spot and we all turned back together.
The level where we turned around.  That is Fethiye in the distance on the left by the water.

Going back downhill was a breeze for me and painful for Bill.  The angle of the incline caused his hip to hurt.  Once finally back on the level path, the pain subsided.  Gosh, we are falling apart in our old age!

After everyone had returned to the starting point, they gathered in a circle and made a few announcements and a few awards for various things.  One guy was given his new name.  That is another of the hashers traditions.....members are given fake names.  For example, Jean is known as Sea Hag.  Theory being that you can act bad when being a hasher and not be known for your bad behavior under your real name.  Sort of like, if it happens in Vegas, it stays in Vegas.

Then about half of us went to a nearby restaurant for beer and pide (Turkish pizza).

A nice day.  We will do it again if invited.


  1. We have a New Orleans chapter, and it sounds like a lotta fun. We may never get around to doing one of these in our home town, but would love to participate in one of these events once we start cruising.

    Don't blame you for stopping ... gotta listen to your body and your heart. Looks like the spot you turned around at had its own great views too!


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