Sunday, April 06, 2008

Hash House Harriers, a Malaysian "invention"

Malaysia can take pride that the now international Hash House Harriers originated from Kuala Lumpur, in 1938 to be exact. A group of British colonial officials and expatriates comprising Albert Stephen Ignatius Gispert, Ronald "Torch" Bennett, Frederick "Horse" Thomson, Cecil Lee and a less regular John Woodrow, got together every Monday evening to let off steam by following a paper trail through the areas surrounding Kuala Lumpur.

After many months of informal runs, they were advised to register it with the Registra of Society and the formal Hash House Harriers was born. It is frequently abbreviated to HHH. It was so named because of the way the runs were conducted. A "hare" will first do some planning of the route, carry a bag of small pieces of paper and used it to mark a paper trial. To allow the slower runners to catch up with the faster ones, the "hare" will occasionally let the trail come to a cold end (a check) and start a new one nearby. When the first few of the "harriers" find the trial come to a dead end, they will have to send out feelers to try to find the new one. By the time they find it, the slower runners would have caught up with the rest. Once the run resume, the runners will shout "on, on" to let others know they are on the trial again. Usually at the end of the run, they will gather together for beer.

I used to join the Hash House Harriers when I was working in Kuching Sarawak in the early 70s. In addition to the round of beers at the end of the run, once in a while, they will gather together in an eating place for a feast often called a "curry." I remembered the gatherings were normally noisy and boisterous. Many eating houses don't take reservations from the HHH for those reasons, but it was fun. When I was back in Kuala Lumpur, I did join the HHH once in a while, but has since long stopped.

Others didn't stop and carried the "sport" to all the major parts of the world, mainly the English speaking part. There are even women hashers and they form the Hash House Harriets.

Now the fun way of exercising has become so big they even have a World International Hash, a biannual event. Accoriding to Wikipedia, here is a record of past and planned World International Hash:

1978 Hong Kong
1980 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1982 Jakarta, Indonesia
1984 Sydney, Australia
1986 Pattaya, Thailand
1988 Bali, Indonesia
1990 Manila, Philippines
1992 Phuket, Thailand
1994 Rotorua, New Zealand
1996 Limassol, Cyprus
1998 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2000 Tasmania, Australia
2002 Goa, India
2004 Cardiff, Wales
2006 Chiang Mai, Thailand
2008 Perth, Australia (scheduled for 21 to 23 March, 2008. This must have been concluded by now.

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