Hash House Harriers is an international “running” organization that generally has groups in cities all across the world. Please note, Hash House Harriers has no affiliation, in any way, with the negative definition of “hash” often used in drug terms. Without getting into much detail at this point in the project, this group partakes in trail runs/walks where an individual takes-off 10-15 minutes ahead of the group to leave a trail of flour—yes, household flour. The rest of the group is supposed then track that first runner, or Hare, throughout some area. This area could be through the jungle, forest, city, etc. Trails typically last 3-5 miles and generally take 1-hour to complete. Once completing the trail, the group reconvenes to drink beer (though not everyone drinks), eat snacks (sometimes dinner), and tell news/jokes/stories that poke fun each of the running members.\
After completing a dozen runs or so, some members have the opportunity to create Hash trails of their own. This is often a difficult task if the person has no knowledge of area or is unfamiliar with the running/walking capabilities of the group. The goal is to fit the trail to a “goldilocks level” so that everyone interested can finish the trail. The step-by-step guide will provide some useful tips to follow when designing a course. This topic was chosen for its uniqueness, and from personal experience. Target audience will be people that do not take things too seriously.
Step 1: Chalk Talk
As the Hare, you need to be very familiar with the symbols (made with flour) of your Hash group. Each group is going to have their own twist on the symbols or even have more of them. This picture covers the basic markings for a typical Hash Run worldwide. Each symbol will serve a particular purpose on the trail you create. You must use either flour or chalk to mark your trail, depending on the type of terrain you are on. In rainy whether, it helps to mix at little tapioca with the flour to provide stickiness and substance to avoid wash-off.
The marks you need to know for laying your trail are the following:
• On On: You will make this mark with flour as you run along your route, about every 30-50 feet*.
• Dead Trail: You will make this mark at the end of the false trail you have just laid after the “Which Way”.
• Check: You will make this mark when you want your runners to track your trail. After the “Check,” you can start the “On On” marking as soon as you have reached 300 feet* away from the “Check.”
• Which Way: This is a good mark to use for laying false trails
• You’ve Been Fooled: If you are really in a clever and evil mood, you will make this mark at the end of a false trail after a very long distance.
• On Home: You will make this mark when you are within 300 feet* of your final destination.
*= this distance is from the birds eye view
Step 2: Essential Supplies
The supplies you will need as you design your trail are as follows:
• Water: Important to remain hydrated
• Cell-phone: In-case you get lost and call for a cab
Other supplies that could be useful:
• Energy Bar: In-case the trail design takes longer than expected
• Money: Money for cab
Step 3: Pick a Familiar Area
Be sure to pick an area that you know from personal experience or have a map to help you navigate around the area. Google maps can be a great asset to for most regions around the world. If you cannot figure out your own way, then you cannot expect the other runners and walkers to follow your trail.
Step 4: Use a GPS and an attached online interface
Using an online interface (i.e. Runkeeper, Nike+, etc.) in conjunction with a GPS will allow you to record your route, distance, and time traveled on your designed trail. This will help you assess the peaks and valleys in difficulty and assign the appropriate markings on the trail, as mentioned in Chalk Talk. The picture shows one of many online interfaces that will allow you to do this task.
Step 5: Around 1-hour Trail Run
A good benchmark for knowing how long the trail should take is to have runners be able to finish in approximately one hour. This way it will be long enough for the serious runners to be challenged and short enough for the new runners to not get discouraged from coming to the next Hash House Harriers event.
Step 6: Make a Big Circle
It’s very important to make your trails in a big circle for two reasons:
• Easier to make small circle routes within big circle routes for walkers and runners, respectively.
• Helps avoid having back-runners encountering the front-runners
Step 7: Make the Trail Memorable!
In order to keep the each HHH trail, it’s necessary to provide:
• Incredible scenery
• Mixing up the terrain
Step 8: Test it out!
Be sure to test out the run yourself before running as the Hare on the day of the Hash. It will allow you to accurately assess unforeseen difficulties and new updates of the terrain, not seen on maps. Again, you will be able to determine better spots for “Checks” or “Which Ways” when necessary. For instance, the picture shows the various places that have checks, the direction being run, and where the short & long trails are.
Step 9: Run with an experienced Hare
Run with an experienced runner that has been the Hare before, when you are testing out your trail. He or she will know some useful tricks of their own when designing trails. Plus, it’s good to have company and a safe way for chartering routes in unfamiliar territory. Also, it would be wise to bring your compass.
Step 10: Now, Do it!
Alright, so now you have all of the tools needed to construct a Hash House Harriers trail, or course. However, as you learn to do more of these, you will add to these suggested instructions to promote your own twist to the various trails. Get creative! Maybe have food breaks along your trail. Maybe have little mini-parties at different “Checks”. It’s up to you because it’s your trail! So….