Friday, September 27, 2013


I got into running through hashing when I lived in South Korea in 2010. The hash house harriers are a worldwide organization of social running clubs, more commonly billed as "a drinking club with a running problem." It has nothing to do with illegal drugs, just lots of booze. Insert obligatory shout out to NQR, Yongsan Kimchi, PMS, OBH3, Seoul Full Moon, Southside, and the 38th Parallel.

Fucking classy

Hashers get together weekly and perform a warm-up a ritual involving bawdy and absolutely vulgar songs and welcoming first-timers in frequently lewd and embarrassing ways, all in good fun. The "hares" have volunteered to lay trail and will have typically scouted the area in advance during the week. They get a head start to mark trail in chalk, flour, shredded paper, or whatever's handy and safe, though the cops aren't particularly appreciative of piles flour on random streets anymore . . . because: anthrax. The hares mark a mix of true trail, wrong trails, dead-ends, double-backs, and other silly things for the runners to stop and do.

The pack, or "hounds," then follow and puzzle out the true trail by sending the speediest runners in different directions at intersections to search for true trail markings, and they will run, whistle, or call back for the others to mark that direction as correct and then carry on. The goal is to catch the hares before they finish, or not, and for everyone to finish and drink together and sing more wild songs.

On through

On down

I don't know how it's done in the states, but in SK, trails wound through city streets and alleyways, up over fences and into yards, up and down mountains, through drainage pipes and even waist-deep rivers, through national monuments, temples, and construction sites, through subways, onto trains, through marketplaces and sometimes uncomfortably close to the DMZ.

No kidding

I got to see a side of Korea that few foreigners ever will. The cops tried to stop us more than once, but they're not very tough and don't like to bother with foreigners because the language barrier just isn't worth the effort, and we clear out quickly enough without destroying anything.

On in

Be Very Fucking Careful!

Everyone always helped everyone to the finish and would double back if we lost someone. I became especially adept at fence-scaling, even for a short gal of 5'3". We also registered for legit road races and ran 5k and 10k events together while singing obnoxiously and complaining at the lack of beer and "shiggy," frequently dashing to the subway to run the hash immediately after crossing the finish line.

Energizer rainy night 5k

About four months before my flight home, I began searching races online, hoping to run a half marathon the next year. What I found was the 2011 Warrior Dash being held a couple weeks after my return, which was considerably easier, safer, and more legal than what I'd been doing all year with the hash. I talked four friends from home into registering with me. We brought warrior paint and had a freaking blast. The sport of mud running really burst on the scene in about 200, but hashers have been doing it worldwide since 1938, and I credit the hash for my love of obstacles and trail running.

Before & After

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