History of the Hash
Minutes oh an old run of the Abidjan Hash
Minutes of an old run of Abidjan HHH

The Hash House Harriers (HHH, H3, or simple “the Hash”) was founded in 1938 by British officers stationed in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia. After duty, it was their custom to congregate at the famous Selangor Club to quaff a few brews. One Monday, one of their number thought he would take a bit of exercise around the club track instead of indulging with us comrades. The novelty apparently was infectious, and the group decided to hold a cross country run each Monday evening to work off the excesses of the weekend. Afterwards, they would gravitate to a local eatery they called the “Hash house”. They invariably washed down their food with their favorite amber fluid. The group soon became known as the Hash House Harriers. The runs were somewhat less than athletic and were based on the old schoolboy game “hare and hounds”.

What happens during a Hash run is this. First, a designated “hare” sets the run by blazing a trail with bits of shredded paper, toilet tissue, chalk marks, flour, lime, or whatever. The pack follows the trail, shouting “on on!” when spying a marker. Hares are encouraged to play nasty tricks by setting false trails, which suddenly send the pack in reverse. The object is to slow down the athletes by making them run further, and to encourage those with more battered physiques who suddenly find themselves in front.

Most Hashes meet once a week, usually in late afternoon. Others meet less frequently (bi-weekly or monthly), and many hold weekend affairs. As of 1994, about 1500 clubs were registered in over 140 countries. A complete list of all registered Hashes in the world is available on the website:

Someone decided to start counting the runs after a couple of years, and that is why Hashers’ T-shirts, singlets, headbands, shorts, towels, and other paraphernalia invariably announce the Run Number. KL’s Hash, known throughout the world as “Mother Hash”, is the oldest (over 2500 runs), but there are quite a few other venerable Hashes throughout Southeast Asia, notably in Singapore, Jakarta, and Hong Kong. The hash has spread in all directions, largely since the 70s, when it suddenly mushroomed.

The Hash is about 10% athletic and 90% social. Some are for men only, some are for ladies (Harriettes) only, and some are mixed. Some feature family runs. Often, sponsors are solicited for special runs commemorating a special occasion of benefiting of a particular charity. The manila Hash, for example, collected several thousand dollars for plastic surgery for deformed children. Hashers are generally fairly “up marked” people – businessmen and women, diplomatic personnel, and professionals. Every Hash charges an admission fee, which pays for the beer, soft drinks, and whatnot. The Delhi Hash, for example, uses its extra cash to throw an annual “Hash Bash” in a large hotel. Madras stages an annual fancy dress ball on the occasion of the handover of the Hash Horns to the incoming Mismanagement Committee.

Special runs are celebrated by every Hash. This could mean a club milestone (such as Bombay’s 100th run, which was celebrated in the hill resort of Matheran) or certain national holidays. Argentina’s Independence Day, for example, was celebrated in Medan, Indonesia, merely because the hare that week hailed from Buenos Aires. Holidays of host nations are another excuse for special runs, invariably featuring special T-shirts, such as the Hyderabad Hash’s recognition of Bakrid.

Hashers have been banned in Moscow (disturbing the peace), arrested in San Diego (jaywalking), and decorated in Thailand (charitable work). A Hash pack in Malaysia stumbled into a guerrilla encampment and later led police to the site. In Saudi Arabia camels have eaten trail markers.

One item common to all Hashes is the “DOWN DOWN” when the run is over. This is when the certain Hashers are obliged to drink a mug of beer (soft drinks for teetotallers) while being vigorously serenaded by the pack. This honor is commonly bestowed on the hares, newcomers, returnees, departees, or anyone celebrating their birthdays, weddings, emergence of offspring, and so on.

The one hard and fast rule of hashing is that here are absolutely no hard and fast rules. Certain aberrances, such as athletic prowess and abstinence, are frowned upon, but even there are tolerated.

In Abidjan, there are 2 hashes. The Abidjan HHH was founded by Andrew Martin and Rick Hodson in November 1981. The Abidjan Classic Hash was founded by Mike “Rajun Cajun” and Valencia “Juicy” Hebert in January 2001.