“Are you waiting for a massage? Do you want a beer while you wait?” Ever since hearing those sweet, sweet words after the Cardiff Half Marathon in October, I’ve been meaning to look up the running club who provided that well timed offer. The Cardiff Hash House Harriers are, by their own admission, a drinking club with a running problem. And today, finally, I joined them for my first ever “hash”.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but having read up a little beforehand, I wasn’t overly surprised by my first greeting. This involved a man in his 80s (I found out later), who went by the name of Horse. He was a little Gandalf-like in his appearance, and demeanor. He wandered over to me and asked, “Are you really here for the hash? You look a bit… normal.” It was meant, I think, in a friendly way and I certainly felt very welcome. Right from the gentle pointers when I was going the wrong way, to my down-down at the end of the run. My freshly cleaned trainers did get one or two disapproving looks – new running shoes are frowned upon apparently.
If, like me, you are completely new to the world of hashing, there is plenty of info out there on the world wide interweb. If you are not a link clicker, here’s my best one minute guide. In a nutshell, a hash is a non-competitive run that follows the paper-chase, or hound and hares pattern. A ‘hare’ sets a course, marked by blobs of flour for the hashers to follow. The course includes checks, short-cuts and false trails that allow people to keep close together regardless of age or fitness – and always (and I mean ALWAYS) ends in a pub. There are Hash House Harriers clubs across the world, and they all owe their origins to the shenanigans of a bunch of ex-pats looking for a way to shake off a hangover in pre-War Malaysia.
Back in modern day Wales, today’s course started and finished outside the Mochyn Du, one of Cardiff’s best pubs. It took us through big chunks of Bute Park (“sorry, that football match wasn’t there when I laid the trail”) – but also into and around town. I really enjoyed it. I barely noticed that I was running, which is the point I suppose, and the changes in pace and the odd stop and search for the right trail meant I didn’t feel any pain in my knee which was an added bonus. I will definitely hash again!
And there’s no question – without the knowledge that I was only two days into #juneathon I probably would have passed on doing any exercise today. So it has already worked wonders as an added spur to action. I’ve run. Discovered a whole new sport. And now I’ve blogged too.
The informal nature of the hash means I’ve no firm idea of how far we ran today, but for the sake of logging something, I’d say about 5 miles.