Running is a fun sport populated mainly by people who are very serious about running. If you’re a serious runner, namely someone who is obsessive, competitive and concerned with the precise placement of every footfall, well then, this article is not for you. But if you’re someone who runs for the sheer joy of it, then read on and I promise you a beer at the end.
Founded in 1993, the Holyland Hash House Harriers is the local branch of a self-described “International Drinking and Running Disorganization”. The full history is available online but in short: Hashing was started by a group of British soldiers stationed in Kuala Lumpur in 1938. Every Monday, they would meet for a game of “Hares and Hounds.” Also known as a “paper chase”, the game comprises a group of runners (the hounds) following an unknown trail marked with paper, chalk or flour by a front runner or “hare”.
The goals were “to promote physical fitness,” “to get rid of the weekend’s hangovers,” “to persuade older members that they are not as old as they feel,” (more on that in a minute) and “to acquire a good thirst and satisfy it with beer.”
Of these, so the last shall be first.
Because the Holyland Hash House Harriers is the antithesis of all things running-related in Israel… except for the running, that is. Israeli runners are very serious. Hashers have silly nicknames. Israeli runners blanch at the very thought of mixing sport and alcohol. Hashers drink beer at the end of the trail and sometimes during it, too. Israeli runners are competitive. Hashing has built-in anti-competition mechanisms, such as “fishhook” markings that require the front runners to circle ’round to the back, periodic stops along the way to gather the hounds, and punishments meted out to anyone caught racing ahead of the pack.
Hasher punishments, by the way, are remarkably similar to Hasher rewards and come in foamy golden liquid form in long-necked bottles with a cap on the top.
Over the years, Hashing has grown into a worldwide “disorganization” characterized by creative chaos, absurdist anarchy, a purposeful lack of purpose, and the willingness to make a fool of oneself… just because. Hashers, male and female alike, have been known to run with funny hats, costumes, and even lingerie – placed strategically atop one’s running gear, of course.
Because despite it all, many Hashers are serious runners in disguise. Or drag, as it were.
Which brings us to the matter of that beer which will be served to you on May 25 in Tel Aviv upon the occasion of the Holyland Hash House Harriers’ 999th run! As with all special Hash occasions, this will be a Red Dress Run for charity. The cost of the run is NIS 25 (the beer is free) with proceeds benefiting the Spivack Rehabilitation and Sports Center in Ramat Gan.
So, put on your red dress and join the pack! The Holyland Hash House Harriers is family friendly: walkers, dogs, kids (soft drinks are available) and baby strollers are all welcome.
Holyland Hash House Harriers Red Dress Run #999
Saturday, May 25, 2013, Tel Aviv
Meet at 15:45 – Run starts at 16:00
Meeting point: Mike’s Place – here’s a map
Cost: NIS 25