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Taichung Hash House Harriers
The hares set some
interesting trails.

Taichung Hash House Harriers
Hashers on a trail.

Taichung Hash House Harriers
The "down-down".

'A drinking club with a running problem': Taichung Hash House Harriers

By James Kane
Translated by S. Ying

"Hashing" began in Malaysia in 1938, when a group of British officers and expatriates began meeting up to run as a way of getting rid of weekend hangovers, promoting physical fitness, and developing a thirst for beer. Since then hashing as an activity has spread, with clubs being registered all over the world, including here in this city with the Taichung Hash House Harriers in existence since 1998.

A "hash" normally involves two members known as "hares" who lay out a trail using non-permanent materials such as chalk, flour or sawdust. The trail is then followed by the rest of the group, known as "hounds", who use teamwork to regain the trail wherever it disappears at a "check". The cunning hares often lay out false trails, dead ends and splits to confuse their pursuers and keep the chasing pack together.

But hashing is much more than physical activity. There is a social aspect to it, with current Taichung Hash GM (Grandmaster) Mark Paas describing it with the classic expression", a drinking club with a running problem". After the run, in what's known as the "down-down", the group relaxes with beers, snacks and other refreshments, sing songs and swap stories about the day. Fun punishments are given out and first-timers are initiated with humorous nicknames with the aim of getting everyone involved.

The club emphasizes that hashing is open to everyone and participants have the freedom to walk or run, drink beer or just water--it's really up to you. It is non-competitive and a great way to meet new friends from all walks of life. The routes set by the hares are varied and imaginative, giving hashers the perfect chance to see the Taiwan countryside and escape from the city and daily stresses of life.

There are regular runs each Saturday (besides the final Saturday of each month), meeting 1 p.m. at the WenXin Road, Sec. 2 McDonald's. For more information, contact Todd Latta at 0936-276-392 or visit http://www.taichunghash.com. All that's needed is a change of clothes, as trails follow a variety of terrain, and of course a sense of humor. The cost to participate is NT$300 for men and NT$200 for women.

Compass Magazine is required by law to remind you not to drink and drive.

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