The Hash House Harriers
The Hash House Harriers were invented by Mr. A.S. Gispert in Kuala Lumpur just prior to World War II (1938). (And thatís corned beef hash, geeze, get your mind out of the gutter, you think about your mother with that mind?) hashing is done throughout the world and is commonly referred to as a drinking club with a running problem. Three Ďrabbitsí run through the countryside dropping bits of paper making a short, medium, and long course. The long course takes about an hour to run. The medium course is about an hour to walk/run. And the short course is about an hour to walk. The courses are full of switchbacks and false turns to fool the unwary hashers. (Too late theyíre all fools you say!) Once the courses are laid, people gather at the starting point for some beer and socializing, followed by the run, concluded with more beer and socializing.
So we all gather at Nuriís just prior to the run (Which is a few kilometers away) I am still a little apprehensive as we pile into Joeís car. (Or maybe Iím apprehensive about riding in Joeís car? Oh, Antar is driving, no problem then) We arrive at the start/end and I am amazed at the number of people. (About 70 I would say) I walk around a bit and there are several people that I have met while following Matt around the island and many more I have never seen before. I decide it is best not to have any beer before the run (good thing too) Just when I was wondering what was going to happen next the hash master begins telling us about the course. "May I have your attention please! This course is not particularly hazardous Ö The long course is marked by appropriately enough, short bits of paper, the medium course by medium bits of paper, and the short course by long bits of paperÖ" As he is talking, he starts walking in an ever widening circle. I can see everyone is getting anxious, and to everyoneís expectations the hash master takes off and the serious runners follow. I decide to try to trail them (mostly to try and not get lost) I hear other people in the crowd say "Man. Let those guys run. Iím walking" as I jog past. Hey. This feels OK. I can keep up no problem. The course quickly takes us onto the rice paddies with narrow walls12 inches wide. Lose your footing and itís over the side into the mud or into the river. Quite beautiful actually. I have never seen this from up close.
The pack starts to stretch out but I am still keeping up with some of them, picking one guy to help me set my pace. The course takes us down a steep hill. I run around a corner and there are some ladies taking a bath. One of them is pretty cute. They giggle ĎHeellooí. I almost slip and fall down the cliff. (The rocks were slippery, honest) A gasp from the ladies as they think they are about to witness one of the white boys breaking his head open. "No Problem, Iím OK" and I keep going down the path. All in all we run past 4 different groups of ladies taking a bath and only 1 group of men. (These rabbits have a naughty streak, this must have been by design) we follow the trail out onto a dam like structure and then the leaders hit a dead end called a check and have to double back. Now I am face to face with the serious runners so I turn around and run with them. (Otherwise I would have gotten run over) The guy I was trying to pace was nowhere to be seen. Now Iím in trouble. These guys are faster then me. Antar the dog passes on my left. We suddenly start up a steep hill, about sixty feet and come out on the top of a rice paddy. Now they start spreading out again and before long I am in the back of the pack. We go up to a road, begin running down and come to the split off between the courses. "Which way should I go?" I think "Well, do I want to be a wimp and take the shorter course or am I a macho man?" didnít take long, macho man won. I run down the long course. A short jaunt down the road past a local cheering section "Haalooo" wave, smile (Donít look tired) and we are back in the rice paddies.
Now there is some serous space between me and the rest. I try to keep up with at least one but after a few more 50 foot ravines I am by myself. Just when I thought the trail wasnít that hard to follow I hit a switch back and I miss a turn. Several ladies shout at me "Haaloo" (they donít speak English) they frantically try to get me back on course. I take a couple of more wrong turns. Ah, there is the trail. Now I am back on track. "Terimah Kasih" I say. More rice. More ladies bathing, a tractor full of kids all want high fives. (They have chalk on their hands and are giggling so I think itís a joke) by this time I am straining and obviously short of breath, sweating profusely. I walk a little ways and I am back on the road. I see a man on the hill beside the road. I get closer and it is where the trails join up again. "20 minutes left. You can take the short cut if you like." Short cut! Macho man donít take no short cuts! So I started running again. (fool) Home stretch. I get overtaken by a local who is amused by my condition. We pass another cheering section, "Haaloo", "hello" I pant. My new running partner starts mocking me with panting sounds and laughing. "Hey! at least I can still talk!" we come onto another road. "Almost finished" he says. Another local pulls up on a motorcycle, sees me straining to even move, pats the seat and looks at me "you want ride?" I know better then to do that. Guys that get caught taking rides are ridiculed by the rest of the crowd and made to guzzle a brew or two. No thanks. More ladies taking a bath. "Slemat Sore" My running friend decides to run backward to prolong the view, smiling and waving at the ladies. "Shame on you" (the Balinese can be quite playful and are masters of flirtation) We crest the hill and the end comes into view. I survived! Now the fun starts. It seems like I am the last one there but I donít think so, just one of the last.
I walk up to the crowd and get in line for a beer. Ahh, there is nothing like a cool draft beer after a run like that. (my legs are shaking, Iím drenched with sweat ). The crowd starts to gather in a circle and the hash master starts a dissertation resulting in picking victims for a down-down. (a beer guzzling ritual starting with a song and ending with everyone in the center racing to see who can drink the fastest) The first victims were called in for reasons that I canít quite discern. A couple of ladies got pulled in for being 40. (man, am I glad I didnít tell how old I was) Then all the Ďvisitorsí Ė i.e. me and the other new people Ė get called in. I came in number two behind Sam on the down-down. Then it got funnier. The hash master starts talking in a thick British drawl about Lipsy (hash name) who owns (or rather had owned) a Harley Davidson. "Lipsy, owner of the most expensive bike in Bali gets tipsy and plants it in a fuckin rice paddy!" pregnant pause as he walks around the circle. "So tell me Lipsy, if you plant your motorcycle, does it grow? No? I know, you forgot to water it!" a couple more victims are selected, one for taking a ride, another for taking a shortcut. "I got lost!" he protests. The song plays, they down their beers and a new round starts. This time he picks on Americans. (For bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki) Someone shouts, "Hey, that guyís American!" I get pulled in. Then he calls on the Japanese for being bombed. He canít find any Japanese so he picks someone who looks Japanese. Down-down is sung and this time I am against veterans and have no chance. We think the festivities are going to quiet down when the hash master announces a sumo wrestling match. The first two contestants tie sheets around their waists and then go at it. The match concluded, the master calls if anyone has something to contribute. Joe pipes up "I do, I do. I have a jokeí The crowd becomes silent. Joe goes to the center ring. "OK" "This guy goes into a bar" pause "Ouch!" Joe starts laughing, the rest of the crowd stares at him blankly. Someone shouts "That ainít funny Joe!" Dejected and bewildered, Joe walks out of the ring with a puzzled look on his face. "Oh, Itís suppose to be a guy runs into a bar" By now no one is listening. More beer and more conversation and we pile into Joeís car and head to Nuriís. This time Joe drives instead of Antar. I guess Antar was too tired from all of the running. (I suspect he came in first). Hash News Page 1, Hash News Page 2
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Text and Photography Copyright © 1999Blake Holliday. All rights reserved.