Not at all what you’d expect… When the running club known as the Chicago Hash House Harriers converges in a different part of Chicago or the suburbs each week, they are looking for more than a workout. The runners (“Hashers” in club parlance) are looking for a trail. The trail is no jogging trail. This is not a race. There may be no particular destination–the fun is in following the trail.The activity is based on the pattern of hounds chasing a hare. The hare scouts out the area in advance and marks a trail using dots of flour, chalk arrows, or toilet paper.
The run… becomes interesting because the hares throw the runners off using false trails. The false trails enable the slower runners to catch up and catch their breath, keeping the pack together as a group. After about an hour of running through fields, swamps, alleys, streets, and other terrain, the Hashers end up at a local pub or home to socialize and go through the rituals associated with “The ON-IN.”
Of course there are also peeps who for whatever reason (recently injured in triathalon training, just came from work straight to the hash, or are 95 years old) can’t actually “run” trail and that’s cool too. Most trails have “walking alternative” just touch base with the hare beforehand for the plan. It’s cool as we want all our friends to make it to the post-run party also known as the…
The On-In… Hashers range from casual joggers to marathoners and come from both city and suburbs. On the trail, they are united by the cry of “On-On” (frequent call used by Hashers to indicate they are on the correct trail). After the trail, Hashers again unite for “The On-In,” the social gathering following the run where the day’s Hash is discussed and beer and sometimes even food are served. Club officers ceremoniously recognize the “Hares” and others demonstrating individual achievement (or lack thereof) on the run.
About the Hash… The International Hash House Harriers was founded in Malaysia in 1937 by a group of bored runners who originated the club as an alternative to lonesome (and boring) individual running. It is based in every major city worldwide, as well as many smaller towns.
Caveat… Note as this tradition began with British Military expatriates in Southeast Asia prior to World War II the songs may not always be compliant with contemporary standards of political correctness (slightly sexually explicit, but in a humorous way) but most people just find this funny. Church Lady (SNL definition) types may however be offended. If however you are cool with a little verbal raunchiness among friends, you can become part of what to my knowledge is the World’s Largest Co-Ed Fraternity. What makes hashing unique is that you can go all over the World and pretty much no matter where you go there is a local hash there who are your friends you haven’t met yet and will welcome you with open arms when you get there.
THE Chicago Hash House Harriers run every week, Winter (October through April) on Sundays afternoons at 2pm, and Summer (May through September) on Monday nights at 7pm as well as on the last Saturday of the month in the Summer. There are also similar groups that run on other days of the week like Thursday (Chicago Thirstday) year-round. If you’re lucky, there will also be a Chicago Full Moon or First Crack of the Moon Hash during the week (bonus!) and/or a Chicago Big Dogs Hash over the weekend! There are no membership dues, although the princely sum $8 or so (for non special events) is collected at each run to help defray the cost of the [liquid] refreshments.