HEALTH & FITNESS 2013 – A Six-Pack in Just Six Miles
An underground running group builds in creative motivators, like beer.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
They’ve been called “drinkers with a running problem” – and when you build beer stops into a six-mile run, it may be an apt characterization.
The Hash House Harriers are an international social club of rambunctious runners with a new chapter right here in Monterey County. It’s a semi-secretive group with bawdy nicknames, strange rituals and traditions that include jogging in dresses. But it also ain’t no walk in the park.
Running the hash can be an ordeal, explains Seaside resident GhettoMan, who asked only to be revealed by his hashing name. (Other Monterey hashers go by names like “Poison Jelly Cock” and “Mr. Wiggly.”)
The goal is to catch the “hare,” a person who has set a trail by leaving symbols along the path. The rest of the group scrambles behind, sometimes falling prey to false trails and dead ends invented by the hare.
Along the way there are two or more “beer checks,” typically coolers of beer, soda and water stashed in somebody’s car.
The Monterey County hash, held twice a month, can attract around 20 to 30 participants, mostly military, but open to all, GhettoMan says.
As the official hare-raiser for Monterey’s CAN’d Hash House Harriers, it’s GhettoMan’s job to find a volunteer to set the trail. If nobody steps up, GhettoMan – also known as GMan – does the job, and his trails can be intense.
“Sometimes poison oak happens,” he says.
GhettoMan first took up hashing through the punishing jungles of Guam, where he spent time as a Marine. After slogging through rivers, fighting swordgrass and scaling waterfalls on the tiny Pacific island, he has high expectations for a good trail. In Monterey, he’ll take any opportunity to lead the pack through “heinous” terrain. A perfect trail for him can take a group from the top of a ridge all the way to the beach. Those less inclined to exhausting jaunts up and down the county can opt to take the turkey trail, an easier version of the run.
After Guam, GMan kept up with the harriers, participating in hashes along the East Coast where he was later stationed.
The tenets of the hash, which was created by British ex-pats in Kuala Lumpur in the 1930s, have more or less remained the same through the years. As Monterey hasher Mr. Wiggly summarizes: Work off a hangover, build up a good sweat, quench it with a beer. Newer traditions also spring up, like the one in which everyone (men and women) does the run in a red dress.
“It’s great, because no matter where you go, you’re among friends,” GMan says. “Plus, there’s no shortage of beer.”
To get involved e-mail email@example.com or look for the CAN’d Hash House Harrier’s group on Facebook.