Hash House Harriers: Xi'an, China

"On On!" screamed Stuart (Hash name: Foot Fetish), as he spots another discreet arrow on the pavement running towards Da Ming Gong Park!  "Follow the Arrows marked out on the pavement, while being aware of any trick arrows, and most of all... don’t get lost!"

Myself (Hash name Tiny Tim from Australia), and Luke (Sheep Shagger – New Zealand), both Kindergarten teachers during the week in Xi'an, spent the morning as the ‘hares’, marking the arrows for all runners and walkers to follow that afternoon.

Which Way to Run??

The crowd of Hash Runners come to an ambiguous hault as two arrows point separate ways at the top of a hill, one way being a dead-end down the hill. Written in white chalk is 'MAN' for a left turn 'OR MOUSE' for a right. There is laughter among the crowd, others looking nervous as they ponder looking deep in their souls which way they will run.

"I’m a man!" yells one young American student proudly, "I’m a mouse, so I’m turning right", whispers a local student to her friend....talk about getting people out of there comfort zones! The correct way to run was actually 'Mouse', and all the people who ran the wrong way have to come running back up the steep hill!

Who are The Xi'an Hash House Harriers?
 
No, it’s not a drug run from province to province across China, rather the Hash House Harriers (HHH) started in Malaysia in 1938 for British expats. HHH is a ‘Drinking club with a running problem’ and now has chapters in London, New York, Xi an and hundreds of other locations all around the world. 

Each week (or month, depending on the city you are in), members of the Hash House Harriers, or H3, meet at a set time and place to run a secret trail that a 'hare' has laid earlier in the day. Each run is between 5-10km, and there are always cold beers to be drunk at the end of each run.

In Xi'an, the Hash House Harriers, meet twice a month; once on a Saturday and once on a Monday. We run in different places all over Xi'an, so whether you are new to Xi'an or an old head, you will discover new and unknown places in Xi'an...from dirty back streets, to cool parks, ancient temples to upmarket shopping malls...no place is off limits for Xi'an Hash Runners!! On! On!

The Da Ming Gong Park Hash Run
 
So here we are, 30 or 40 people, all limbering up outside Da Ming Gong Metro station, with beer or water in hand at 3.30 pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon (it’s like we are ready for a Rugby World Cup decider, the anticipation is too much!).

Foot Fetish starts proceedings for all the new faces: "Make a circle, if you're new stand in the middle and introduce yourself, say where you are from and what you do". A cross-section of people has arrived: different ages, professions and nationalities; all joined together once a month on a Saturday and Monday (the Monday Hash Runners for people who work weekends, Saturday Hash Runners for those who work during the week).

The introductions are done and we are about to make a move, before an American accent announces that its ‘selfie time’- Elysia from Kansas takes the photo only for Stu to murmur "this could be a definite infraction..." with a little grin…We begin jogging, the Xi'an Hash Run is officially underway. 

Hash House Harriers Xi'an: Half Way Point
 
"There will be a special half way meeting point, for you all to have a rest, catch a breather, have a chat for half an hour or so....and drink a cold beer!" explains Stu. The half-way point provides beer (Hash running and drinking beer are closely connected world wide!) and time to relax on top of a stone heritage landing overlooking the Park.

A high enough point to gaze out through the clear day and blue skies to see the mountains which surround Xi an - quite a rarity this time of year. The strong turnout of Hash Runners enhances the energy and overall vibe of the Xi'an H3.Soon we break out into song, rap, and beat box…. "hey baby", the Hash Run theme song. It is rare everyone makes it to the half-way point together after 4 or 5 kilometers of running or walking, and others just get lost...having missed a few of the arrows on the way, so we are still waiting on a few individuals.

The challenge of the Hash Run is to follow the arrows correctly (sorry Foot Fetish and Blow Fish better luck next time!)

The stragglers arrive and the crowd poses for a photo, and of course another rendition of "Hey Baby!" before continuing the Hash run.
  
Continuing the Hash Run as the Sun Sets
 
The sun is getting low as we pull in to the end point. Foot Fetish calls for a circle again: "It is the end of the run, but not the end of the fun". It is time for the Hash Run rules to come out to play, "the most popular and everyone’s favorite part of the day" says Blow Fish, an experienced hash runner.

The Hash House Harrier Rules are as follows: If you turn up for the run wearing new shoes = must drink from your shoes (yes drink your beer from your dirty smelly ‘new’ shoe).

First Hash run = finish your drink.

After attending 5 Hash runs you will be given a 'Hash name' = beer poured over head by everyone.

What are Hash Names?
 
The Hash names usually involve a raunchy, sexually-orientated theme. Enter Sadeek: a student from Bangladesh, who had his fifth run. After various ideas, names like ‘Suckdeek’, 'Too Much Sun', everyone decided on Bangladick, boom! Another successful hash run name....Sadeek will now be called 'Bangladick' at every Xi'an Hash Run (or any other Hash Run he goes to globally)...Hash Names are forever!

Accusations or Infractions in the Hash Circle
 
Finally it was time for the 'infractions'...

Infractions mean runners can call out other runners into the middle of the circle and vilify them for any reason (they may be called out for arriving late to the run, or maybe just not liking their haircut or colour of the T-shirt!). So it was only fair I gave Elysia from Kansas an infraction for holding up the whole run to take that selfie at the start of the Xi'an Hash Run! Harsh but fair.

She finished her drink in good spirit. We finished with a Kao Rou BBQ dinner within walking distance which topped off a brilliant afternoon and night. Join us next time on the Xi'an Hash Run!

Join the Xi'an Hash House Harriers

Join the group on WeChat. Also in 2016 there will be an inter hash in Bali, join the We Chat group to find out more. If you are reading this and are either new in Xi'an, or coming to Xi'an on holiday and want to Hash Run, then please email stuart@rayenglish.com and we can help you to find the Xi'an H3! On! On!
 
by Tim 'Tiny Tim' Synnott
 
 

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