Sunday at The Hash

Sunday is generally my “rest” day,  but the thought of another day cooped up inside was enough to make me daydream about a nice bubblebath with a toaster. Unfortunately I have been unable to ski this winter, mostly because my thumb still looks like this:

So today I decided to rekindle my relationship with The Hash House Harriers, a club I joined back in the day when I was an unhappy runner. The Hashers are an “International Drinking Club with a Running Problem” and actually manage to make running fun. Given my move to cycling, I hadn’t attended one of the weekly “runs” in some time. Today, in spite of the -30 degree temperature (-22 degrees for you Yanks out there) seemed like the perfect day to slap on the running shoes and head for The Hash.

We started the 5km run from Woody Good Pecker’s house (all Hashers have an official “Hash name”. Woody earned his by crashing into a tree one particular Hash run held in the dark.).

Today’s trail was marked with blue surveyor’s chalk to stand out against the white snow.

The runs will sometimes incorporate song stops (you stop, you sing), moon stops (you stop, you moon) and beer stops (you stop, you drink). Today was no different.

These are not serious runs. Far from it. In fact, God help you if you show up with a GPS or heart rate monitor. You will at best be mocked, or punished for excessive use of toys. Get too competitive and you will be nailed with “racism”. But make no mistake, there are serious runners here. Boston qualifiers. They are awesome.

This hardly feels like running. Which is strange considering the conditions are not exactly ideal. It is cold, and grey, and the icy snow that is falling is like little shards of glass in your eyes. But the company and the weirdness of it all makes it oddly enjoyable.

When the run ends, the official part of the evening begins, known as “Circle”. Circle starts with “Our Lager” the Hash version of the Lord’s prayer. None of us us getting into heaven anytime soon, not without some serious explaining. Circle is led by the “Religious Advisor” (RA), in our case, Sir Whines-a-Lot. The RA doles out, at his or her discretion, punishments for infractions perpetrated (or not) on trail. Punishments entail mocking the guilty party with an off-colour song and a healthy beer shooter (about 4-6 ounces). Our songs are inappropriate, politically incorrect, bawdy and, in my humble opinion, hilarious. Especially after a beer or two. Titles include Whip it Out at the Ball Game, I Need a Sheep, Jesus Can’t go Hashing and What a Wank. We sing enthusiastically, loudly, and badly.

It’s amazing how a 5km run in dreadful weather, followed by cheap awful beer, ripple chips and good friends can make an otherwise ordinary Sunday into something extraordinary. It is soul candy.

Also in attendance were Agent Mile High (a travel agent), her boyfriend, Thor Play (of Scandinavian descent), Fast and Furriest (a hairy marathoner),  P.P.I.T.A (Prohibition Pain in the Ass), Muff Diver (don’t ask) and his girlfriend Wyette Burp, and Brutha Plucka. Sadly missing were Dr. Do-Me (a handsome doctor from Thunder Bay) and our dearly departed (and also handsome) Aussie visitor, Didgeridoo-Me, as well as good friends Sista-Do-Rag, Suds, Hungry Bumbi and Back Door Betty, among others.

Fast and Furriest raises a Point of Lager.

The cycling connection? Hashing is kind of like bipedal cyclocross. If I can’t ride my bike outside, this is certainly the next best thing.