- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 7, 2004

MONROEVILLE, Pa. — In a shopping-center parking lot, the Duke of Hurl shakes a handful of peach-colored flour on the ground, creating a dot, an “X,” an “F,” an arrow and a “B.”

He explains their meaning for the three dozen runners — “hounds” — gathered for the Pittsburgh Hash House Harriers weekly romp. Duke is the “hare” and previously has sprinkled the symbols along nearby roads, a railroad bed and woods. The hounds must follow the symbols as they traverse a course of several miles.

The goal is beer. Welcome to hashing, an international phenomenon that is described jokingly as “a drinking club for those with a running problem.”

Dots mean that the hounds are on the right trail. Once the dots are spotted, the lead hounds shout “On, on” to guide those in the rear. An X means the trail could go in any of several directions, only one of which is right. The hounds usually split to find the right trail. The wrong trail will lead to an F, for false.

An arrow also means that the hounds are on the right track, and the B is for beer break, when the hounds stop for a drink and a chat before hitting the trail again for the run to the finish.

Hashing traces its origins to the late 1930s, when the British occupied Malaysia and a group of runners modified the old English school game of hares and hounds.

The story goes that a group of expatriates met on Mondays to run off their weekend hangovers. An enterprising pub owner started meeting them at the end of their runs with beer in his car trunk, which gave birth to the idea of combining the two activities, said Jay “Hops” Hopkins, editor of Half-Mind Catalog (www.half-mind.com), an Internet hashing magazine.

There are two types of hashes: dead hare and live hare. In dead hare, the more common type of hash, the hare sets the trail ahead of time. In live hare, the hare sets out just before the hounds.

Kennels, as the clubs are known, go by either a nickname or their geographic location, which is tacked onto “Hash House Harriers.” “Hash house” was the original runners’ nickname for the Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur, where many ate and lived.a

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