The Hash House Harriers was started by an Englishman, Gispert, (that's him to the right) who with his friends lived in a boarding house in Kualar Lumpur in the 1930's. The food was so bad they called it the Hash House. For entertainment they started a running club (Harriers) based on the English school game of hare and hounds chasing a trail of paper through the countryside and so the Hash House Harriers was born.
These days it is a worldwide phenomenon with clubs all over the world. Gispert would have been amazed, sadly he died defending Singapore during the war.
So what happens on a hash?
A "hare" sets off with a bag of shredded paper and sets a course, usually about one hour running time. The hash is not competitive and so every now and again there may be a false trail which will suddenly end usually marked with a cross (known as a checkback) which means "go back and find the paper". Sometimes there will be a checkaround marked by a circle which means "the paper goes on from here but you must find where it starts again".
The hounds gather and at a predetermined time they set off following the paper over hills across rivers anywhere the hares might decide to send them.
The end of the run usually returns to the starting point then the real hashing starts. The run is only an excuse really to work up a good thirst. Plenty of lubrication is needed and the hounds form a circle. The Hash Master and often a Religious Adviser run the circle welcoming visitors and of course punishing anyone who has sinned during the day. A good time is had by all before the hounds wend their weary ways home.
It is a great way to spend a day, which is why it is so popular around the world.