What's better than running, then drinking? Drinking, running, drinking, running, and then drinking some more, of course!
And that's exactly what was on the menu last Monday, when I joined the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Hash House Harriers for their weekly "Wild Card Hash," held Monday evenings. Hashing, like knitting, is one of those things most people just wouldn't think to do; but for a dedicated few, it becomes a way of life.
Hashing, believe it or not, is an internationally popular sport — if you want to call it a sport— with a long, glorious history. Here's how it works: a bunch of people get together at a pre-determined location, different each time. Often, a beer or two is cracked while hashers are arriving — to loosen the running muscles. Everyone pitches in some money (usually between one and five dollars), a song or two is sung, newcomers - "virgins" - are introduced, and then the hashers are off and running.
The object is to follow a trail laid out with chalk and flour. The route can go anywhere — across vacant lots, down railroad tracks, over water, through blighted urban ghettoes, whatever. And every so often, hashers encounter "checks," which mean the trail might go in any direction. The fastest runners go and search for the next flour mark, while the slower runners get a chance to catch up and bitch. Interestingly, the Wildcard Hash is one features a "live hare," meaning that whoever laid-out the trail also runs it, taking a head start. Catching the hare is worth something, but I forget what — I think it involves someone getting their pants ripped off.
Somewhere along the path, like so much gleaming booty, is beer. You drink it, and then you keep running; it's not so hard to do. All the yelling helps — "On On!" is the hasher's stock battle-cry.
There are a number of hashes around South Florida, some held weekly and others, like the full moon hash, less often. Unfortunately for Miamians, a lot of it is centered around Fort Lauderdale (is there anything in Miami 21 about bringing hashing to the city?). You can look for the next hash online, or (better) by calling the Hash hotline: 954-680-4274.
For a taste, try this Sunday's special hash at Jimbo's on Key Biscayne, celebrating the eponymous owner's 80th birthday. The Hash starts at 10:30 (they're charging $10, but promise lots of food and, of course, beer). Get there at 10:30 a.m. and, as they say, look for wankers — you'll be one of them. On on! --Isaiah Thompson