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  • Not Your Usual Running Group

    Posted on April 29th, 2009 Michele Sun No comments


    The Hsinchu Hash House Harriers has just celebrated their 10 year anniversary on Sat April 25, with 105 people show up on a rainy day, and so sorry that I missed it by 5500 miles. What is or who are Hsinchu Hash House Harriers? Not too hard to tell from their tagline on their website – “Hsinchu’s kennel of the Hash House Harriers. The drinking club with a running problem.” And I can’t forget how I got involved with a drinking club that’s situated on the other side of the globe.

    The story began on May 7, 2007, when I went to Taiwan for a 6 week job orientation, a long business trip in bloody hot Asia that interrupted my training for Anchorage Marathon. This unexpected trip had me worried that I could not accomplish my race if I did not train as hard as I should and wanted. So I turned to the best place for any information – Google.

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    I Googled “runners club in Taiwan” before I left home, San Jose, and found couple local Hash groups (Hash House Harrier). I shoot an email to the Grand Master and explained that I was looking for running buddies. What is a Hash anyway? Well, it’s not exactly a runners group like Team in Training whom I ran with; instead it’s more like a drinking and social group with add-on running. But I did not know any of these until I met with the group.

    Got a respond from Mud2Pud very quick and so kindly that he invited me to wreck the site for May’s run and learn more about the Hash. By the way, all the Hash runs are done in the jungles or rural areas of Taiwan. He picked me up at the Hsin-Chu train station in a tinted BMW that looked like a gangster getaway car, and we stopped at a tiny hardware store in the middle of nowhere to get some machetes. I looked at the sickles and thought “Boy, what am I getting myself into here?”

    Three more Hares joined us and soon we started climbing rocks, jumping over creeks, crossing bamboo bridges, plants wrecking and very heavy dosage of trash talking. You got to see these four huge white dudes with knives — they were really having a blast!

    I went to my first Hash run in Taipei and the Hares that time were Dances with Wolves from Denmark,  and Muslim Goat Fooker from Sweden. Here is how a Hash run works — a Hare would start the run 15 minutes before the rest of the group, and he/she marks the trails with flour, yes the flour you buy at supermarket, then all  the  rest  follow  the  flour  and  find  their way  in  the  jungles.

    There will be special marks used to indicate a false trail, a backtrack, a shortcut, or a turn — you have to find the flour within 100 meters. And the traps and tricks were used to slow down the fast runners.  For instance, I had to climb over a fence with very clear “No Climbing” sign on it, and into a cemetery where I kept apologizing “Excuse me! Sorry for my disturbing in peace”,  or  through  the window  of  an  abandoned  military  post that I was so afraid that I would get shot at.

    It’s for all  types and shapes of people  actually;  you  will  have  people  want  to  run  their asses off or some just want to run for the 6 pack. Oh,  forgot  to  mention  the very important “hydration fuel” — instead  of  water  stop,  we  had  Down  Down— drinking “Tai Pi” (Taiwan Beer) during and after the run.

    Since I was a Virgin (first time runner with this group), and the only girl did a long run that da,  they  called  me  up  4  times  for  the  Down  Down (drinking beer). I was so buzzed that I felt my feet were so light, even though I just did the never-ending hills runs.

    After the Down Down ceremony, the group moved on to a Hot Stir-Fry type of restaurant on the street;  we sit on the little wooden stools on sidewalk and had the most delicious stir fry dishes and the coldest beer one can never imagine. Food and beer have never tasted this good in my life!

    That summer I was glad that I had accidently found this group , and no doubt the run was an experience that I will cherish for years to come. Mud2Pud and I remained contact after I returned to CA, and I plan to visit him and the group again this summer. This time I will focus more on the Down Down part 🙂


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