Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Independence Hash

I survived another Hash Run, the Independence Day Hash, here in St. Kitts!

Preparing for the hash.

Check out all the red, green, black, and yellow outfits.
If you're wondering what the heck a hash run is, don't feel like you're the only one who doesn't know. Before I came to St. Kitts I wondered the same thing and had to research the tradition myself. I was not surprised to find out the tradition was started by the British. Who else would conceive of an idea so wacky, sarcastic, contradictory, and most of all fun? But before any of you Brits bristle at my words, know that I can poke fun because my heritage points back to the rainy isle too!

The hash tradition began in the 1930s in Malaysia, when British troops began organized fun runs that were reminiscent of a British school game where a hound chased a hare on various trails. After running the course, the participants indulged in beer, ginger beer, and cigarettes, which suited the British right well.

The amusing original rules of the Hash House Harriers in Malaysia in 1938 can be found at Go to the Hash.net:
  • to promote physical fitness among our members
  • to get rid of weekend hangovers
  • to acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
  • to persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel                
Original Hare and Hound running in England in the 1870s.
Photo credit: hash.net
My first St. Kitts Hash House Harriers experience was three days after we arrived on the island. The run took place just above Monkey Hill in the countryside. The view was awesome, but boy did I sweat! We ran a long way over some steep and challenging terrain.

The view from the top of monkey hill on my first hash
This weekend's hash, number 291, was held in Beacon Heights, which is just north of Basseterre near the paint ball field. This hash drew more of a crowd than the last one, probably because Ross's classes are back in session.

The participants split into two groups, the runners and the hikers. Of course I was in the running group. The hiking group was a lot larger than it was on my first hash. We headed straight up the hill into the grassy rural part of St. Kitts, where farmers raise cows and goats and the houses are spread apart, unlike in Basseterre. This is the type of land I'm used to.

Our group headed up the side of the hill
I mentioned to Julie probably more times than she wished to hear that this would be the type of area I'd want to have a house if we did decide to stay in St. Kitts long term. Check it out! There are even cows up there. They're on chains, but it was still neat to see them. Undoubtedly they are a Brahma cross.

Brahma eared cow
Why are these strange humans running through my pasture?
We eventually all made it to the top after stopping several times to wait for everyone at the trail checkpoints, and boy, was it worth the view!

View from the top of Beacon Heights looking southeast over Basseterre.

Another View from the same area. Nevis is in the background.

Too bad someone had already stolen my idea of building a place to live up there. Damn!

Future home?

That's fine. There is plenty of other land on St. Kitts for me to explore and maybe someday to build on.

At that point we headed back down the hill and after around 45 minutes of running in 90 degree heat, we were back at our starting location. But the story doesn't end there and neither does the hash. It was time for some food, drinks, and of course initiating the virgin runners, along with other hashing traditions.

The first order of business was the voting of the best Independence Day costume. This was decided by who received the most cheers from the audience. There were quite a few unique costumes:

Creative Costumes
I thought this chap had quite the costume too, and I liked his sunglasses:

After the winner was declared, the virgins were initiated by a beer baptism, a chugged beer, and a shower of foam by the laughing spectators, who probably remember how embarrassing their first hash was.
Virgins being baptized by beer

The only situation worse than being initiated after your first hash would be being singled out for wearing new shoes on a hash. Apparently those crazy Brits wrote something about this in their rules. The unknowing new shoe wearer this time happened to be a Brit herself.

Amy had just arrived in St. Kitts three days earlier and somehow hadn't done any hash runs in the United Kingdom. Not only was she initiated by a beer bath, but the hash leader filled her new shoe with beer and made her drink out of it. Thankfully Amy told me that she wasn't put off because Brits have no problem drinking beer, regardless of where it comes from.

Amy on the left getting ready to down her shoe full of beer.

The next run will be held on October 6th, when the hashers will run the Children's Home 5k charity event along with other more serious runners. Be there, because it just happens to be my birthday.

And if you're shy about coming to a hash, don't be. Contrary to what it may sound like, you don't have to drink or even run to participate. It's a great way to see parts of the island you'll otherwise miss, and you'll meet some great friends.  If you are interested in doing a hash run in St. Kitts, check the Island Babble calendar for upcoming events or the St. Kitts Hash House Harriers facebook page. 

Happy Hashing. On On!
Me on the hash trail