This weekend a ‘hash’ will be held in Wageningen for the first time. It’s a way of socialising that combines running, drinking and meeting new people. Oliver op ten Noort, a student of Tropical Land Use, has taken the initiative to get international visitors and locals together.
‘At first I hesitated to join a hash. I’d heard stories about drinking and teasing from my father, who’s often abroad as an ex-pat and has been a hasher for years. When you’re working all week and you don’t know the country or other people you can get bored at the weekend. Then a hash is a godsend; it’s a great way to meet people.
I did my first run five years ago in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. I was afraid I might violate their customs, but I was received with open arms. Regulars get mud and beer thrown over them if they show up in new clothes, but newcomers are spared. New shoes are habitually christened by drinking beer from them. So don’t come in fancy new clothes.’
‘Before the run, the track is set out with flour. Some time ago in London the trail of flour caused the police to block streets, as they suspected anthrax. If it’s raining, we use sawdust. The run has a ‘beer stop’ half way, when you usually drink water. The track has several false trails to give it an element of play. It also evens out the speed of the runners and keeps the group together. The run is not a competition and there’s also a track for walkers.
When everyone has caught their breath, you’re asked to gather round in a circle. Several people are invited into the circle to be toasted: as it isn’t a race, someone who had to pee during the run might be declared the winner. Or the toast might be to all the French participants if France has done a nuclear test again, or to the Dutch on Queens Day. If you prefer you can do a ‘down-down’, downing your drink in one go, at the end of the run, but most people join the on-on and go for a drink together.’
‘The spirit of the hash is hard to explain. If I walk up the stairs I’m out of breath. But at a hash I’m motivated to run. It’s about having fun. If you go, it’s worth getting into the spirit of the event. People make the hash. Be open to other people, but don’t worry – you don’t have to shake hands or say your name.’ / YdH
First hash: Sunday 9 October, 16.00, meeting point De Dikke Draak, Hoogstraat 9. Experienced hashers will be there and the language of instruction is English.
Hash House Harriers
A hash is a running and drinking social club a bit like a student fraternity. It started with a group of English expatriates in the late 1930s in Malaysia and grew into a worldwide phenomenon. Hash House Harriers place equal emphasis on the sporting aspect and on the social camaraderie, and the activities are non-competitive. There are hashes in cities all over the world. In the Netherlands the Hash House Harriers are active in The Hague, Amsterdam and Assen.