The Joys of setting a Hash run
1. What it is all about!
Hashing is about having fun. About good-natured bantering, good food and a modicum of drinking among friends who judge you by what you are, and not what you do or where you come from.
But the central piece is a good run or walk. If nothing else, it makes the beer taste much better afterwards. It can also prevent complaints from locals about lost souls wandering round at night like headless chooks looking for signs from heaven. Apparently they can put up with singlets and T-shirts with crude words and pictures. But not frantic calls of 'Are you?', irritated replies of 'Checking' and triumphant shouts of 'On On' embellished by bugling that sounds like suppressed farting.
2: Setting the run
The hare is under pain of death:
To keep the pack more or less together, as a Hash run is not a race.
To treat the night out as fun, otherwise you might as well stay at home with your spouse or partner.
To include some interesting features, otherwise we might as well run round the block or track.
We most definitely do not want to become a running club, with or without a drinking problem. But this does require that front-running bastards (FRBs) and geriatrics come in quite close together, with the former normally taking no more than an hour to complete a run of between 6 and 7 km and all the deviations. If it takes longer, the old ticker might give up and the beer will have lost its chill.
It is, of course, difficult to satisfy all these conditions because Hashers:
Come in all shapes and sizes, including blokes with beer guts that have prevented them for years from sighting their private parts.
Come with different motives, whether it is to run, walk, get pissed or get laid.
But it will be easier to keep most happy by a generous use of the following ploys:
When running on roads, place big internationally recognized sacred Hash signs consistently on the same side of the road and under streetlights so they can be seen easily. Remember that you set the run during the day along a route known to you, while they do it under quite different conditions.
When running through bush, place toilet paper on branches or flour on the ground in generous proportions. If Greenies tend to frequent the area, flour will be better because it is more difficult to remove.
When it looks like it might rain, try keeping it away by making live sacrifices of Hashers you dislike because virgins in Hash have long since disappeared.
When you come to a T-junction, inform them that they have to do some checking by writing in generous proportions:
After a decent distance (e.g., 20 metres) along the false trail, place the first arrow, preferably under a streetlight:
There are no set rules on how many arrows you can use before placing a FT to let them know that they have been led up the garden path. However, having more than 2 is usually considered bad form and having no arrows at all is a crime punishable by icing. When the FRBs see the FT they know that they are on the false trial and should then broadcast the fact loudly and head back to the junction. You must put down a FT, otherwise those FRBs with poor hearing and no sense of direction will simply vanish into the night. It is, of course, tempting not to put down arrows and a FT, especially when you are setting the run by yourself and are buggered towards the end of it.
Along the true trail, place, after a decent distance and preferably under a streetlight, the first arrow. Again there are no set rules on how many of these you can use or how far apart the arrows must be before drawing 2 parallel arrows.
or writing On On to indicate the true trail.
But use the same number along the true and false trails to avoid unnecessary work. Suppose you place:
2 parallel arrows after 30 metres along the true trail to indicate that people are on trail, and
a FT after 40 metres along the false trail to indicate that they are off trail.
This will make the last 10 metres along the false trail superfluous. When the FRBs on the false trail hear the 'On On' call, they will double back and you would have wasted valuable energy in setting the last stretch along the false trail. Of course, this is provided that there is proper calling.
Y-junctions and roundabouts
The same procedure applies for these. Simply draw a circle at the start of the search for the true trail. If you are artistic or unemployed, adorn the circle thus:
The C indicates that it is a checkpoint, the arrows the directions to be checked.
This is a good ploy to give the FRBs extra exercise. For example, at a T-junction, direct them to the right with your arrow. Place a number of arrows, the number and the distance between them depending on how nasty you want to be, before placing a CB. This tells them that they have been led truly up the garden path and the true trail lies somewhere along the path just covered.
CBs can be used along a road that leads to no where. Just take them up it and at the end place a CB. As they cast doubt on your parentage on the way back, they should meet their slower colleagues and the group is together again.
CBs never fail to catch out and inflict pain on FRBs, so use them liberally. Just remember that they hate to see CBs at the top or the bottom of streets with steep inclines, and the more vicious the incline the better it is. But you must observe a number of important things when using a CB:
use it anywhere except at a check;
the true trail must be along the previous path or cross-road: if you are nice, the true trail will be off the last arrow marked;
do not set it from a regroup (RG) where the pack has to run back over it. Some uncouth Hasher may have pissed on some old fart's immaculate lawn and brought out the local vigilante group.
This is an excellent trick to keep the group together but getting it right is an art. It also depends on the terrain. Two types of terrain are particularly good:
a flat playground: send the FRBs careering round it and when they are some distance around, the slower runners will see them (or their torchlight) or hear their vociferous calling and short-cut the course;
a medium-length crescent off another road, where the exit point is visible from the entry point: when the FRBs have gone right round the crescent, the rest of the gang will see them and indulge in more short-cutting.
Hashers who are habitually late in turning up appreciate a loop being set at the start of the run. Send the group right round the block to the start of the run and begin all over again. By which time the sporting bras or jockstraps of the latecomers will be in place.
When all else fails to keep the bunch together, use a RG.
To enliven things up, insist that the group render one of those foul Hash songs at a RG. Also have RGs with song in front of places where you will be welcomed. Thus, perform in dulcet tones in front of Government House and churches. Provide a stirring rendition of the version of 'Rule Britannia' about setting off Chinese crackers up your arse will do very nicely in front of the National Party's headquarters, One Nation electoral offices, RSL clubs and police stations.
Place an arrow in the direction of the next stage of the run, in the event that the performance is not appreciated and a hasty retreat is needed. Aim for 3 RGs for the run, thus breaking it into 3 more or less equal parts.
When even having RGs fail to keep the bunch together, have a drink-stop at the second of three RGs. This will be especially appreciated in summer. What you serve depends on the class of people you imbibe with but a mixture of beer and lemonade is acceptable. So is mixing the remains of some old horrible port (e.g., unwanted Christmas present) with lemonade.
The New and the Blind
For those new to the area and early arrivers, draw a large circle outside the site with the name of the club in it to help these unfortunates.
something for them to remember you by ...
Apart from attempting to keep the group together, try to make your runs interesting. Of course, this is not easy because so much depends on where you live or decide to set the run. But it is never smart to have long boring stretches. It would also help if you make the group:
go through the bush, especially those ones with plenty of lantana, loose rocks, tree roots and low over-hanging branches;
chance life and limb from stepping on slippery logs and crossing wide, deep and fast-flowing streams or estuaries at dusk when the tide's in and sharks are on the prowl;
crawl through dark, dank and smelly tunnels, preferably graced by rats and dead dogs;
climb fences, especially those with taut barbed wire and pointed vertical supports; and
go through school grounds during P & C meetings when contentious issues are being debated.
Use gyprock or chalk because signs marked with them disappear after a few cars have run over them or at the first sign of rain. Avoid water-based paint as this hangs around and, more importantly, can confuse future runs set in the same area.
slow runners & walkers
Have a trail-master to:
Cross out, at every check, the false direction after the true trail has been found.;
Look for stragglers, especially in the bush and the less salubrious parts of town.
Aim for a decent homestretch
to allow the FRBs to strut their ware. And, during the homestretch,
reward all for their perseverance by using generously the following
The increase in the number of X's means that they are getting closer to home and the sacred liquid amber of the XXXX variety that awaits them there.
If the Gods are still unhappy after the live offering of your least favoured Hasher and the rain is still pissing down late in the afternoon, then do a live run. Set off at least 15 minutes before the starting time with a couple of willing FRB to lay the trail. Flour will hold its place long enough on the ground, as will toilet paper on branches.
But don't attempt this unless you are pretty fit because being caught by the FRBs is an icing offence. However, setting a live run is an experience well worth going through. The adrenalin from being just ahead and hearing the 'On On' call in the distance, the thrill and desperation of feeling like a fox on the run!
Yes, there is also etiquette here:
do not compete because races are only for horses or those training for the Olympics;
when you are on trail, always call 'On On' when you see an arrow;
always respond to strident queries of 'Are you?' with equally strident calls of 'Checking', 'On One', 'On Two' or 'On On';
when you see the first arrow on, say, a two-way check, call out 'On One', the second arrow 'On Two', etc., and only call 'On On' when you see the parallel arrows, the words, 'On On' or are certain that you are on trail;
on busy streets, ensure that the FRBs down the false trail hear the 'On On' calls when the true trail is found: after all, they are doing you a favour and, once neglected, might not be so generous the next time round;
When you see cars coming towards the pack, either from in front or behind, call "Hash car";
Be especially vigilant with bicycles without lights or bells;
hold the RG as it is not a race: if you are keen to go home to your loved one, then you might as well have stayed at home to begin with; and
short-cutting is permitted as it has an honourable tradition in Hash .