Drinkers With A Running Problem
‘Drinkers with a running problem.’ If the catchphrase doesn’t intrigue you, perhaps the term ‘Hashing’ will. However, despite what you may be thinking, taking part in ‘the Hash’ has nothing to do with illegal substances. The Hash House Harriers are a running club that was initially formed in Malaysia back in 1938. ‘Hashes’ as they are commonly known, were created as a way for the British colonial officers to cleanse themselves of their excessive boozing. Every Monday, the officers would follow a trail through the countryside of Malaysia, an idea they devised from a game they would play as children, called Hare and Hound.
The officers would regularly drink at a local bar called the Hash House, which is where they took inspiration, and so, The Hash House Harriers (HHH) were born. Although two of the founders were killed during World War II, the remaining members continued the hashing tradition, eventually opening a second chapter in Singapore in 1962. In the seventies, the idea spread throughout almost every continent in the world, and today there are nearly 2000 Hash House Harrier chapters around the globe.
Grenada Hash House Harriers
Visitors to the Eastern Caribbean island of Grenada will discover a large and active chapter of the Hash House Harriers. Every Saturday afternoon, participants meet at unique locations around the island. Grenada is one of the most attractive islands of the Caribbean and its diverse landscape provides the perfect backdrop for the popular event. However, it’s not only the countryside that is beautiful. The people of Grenada are warm and welcoming, and their music, which is the lifeblood of the island, provides the rhythmic beat to which all Grenadians march.
Participants of this ‘fun run’ range in age and level of fitness, so don’t let the word “run” put you off. Being a good runner is not a prerequisite for the hash, nor do you have to be exceedingly fit. What you do need is a sense of fun and adventure and a willingness to ‘follow the leader’ through an often-challenging course.
But who doesn’t like the idea of having fun with a group of like minded individuals, the only side effect being that you may accidentally get into shape doing so?
Traveling to the predetermined hash location by way of a local bus is an adventure in itself. Pumping soca music can be heard blaring from the minibus speakers as hordes of locals squeeze in together, all going about their daily business. And while you may think the bus is full, don’t be mistaken, the ‘bus boy’ will always figure out a way to fit just one more bum on a seat. As you weave along the narrow roads at breakneck speed, you will pass cocoa plantations, sugar cane crops and mountainous rainforests. The air becomes noticeably cooler as you climb in elevation, and the panoramic views of the deep blue ocean will take your breath away.
What To Expect
Arriving at the starting point, it will soon become clear that the crowd is as diverse as the countryside. Students, locals, yachties and expats all converge in the designated meeting area for an afternoon of fun in the sun. After a quick welcoming ceremony (that oddly involves a ‘hash virgin’ drinking beer out of their brand-new sneakers,) participants will set off on a trail marked by small piles of shredded paper. The experienced hashers generally take the lead, running at a cracking pace, while the remainder of the group jog, walk or meander in a more leisurely fashion.
The first thing participants will notice is the camaraderie between the group as they hike along the narrow goat trails, over hills and down ravines. You may even traverse a river by hopping from one river stone to the next, fellow hashers banding together to help one another across.
While every hash is in a different location within the 131 square mile island, what they all have in common is the fact that they are equal parts fun and exciting. At the outset of the hike and through its entirety, you have absolutely no idea where the trail is leading you. You may find yourself scrambling up near-vertical trails, grabbing vines, Tarzan style, to avoid slipping in the mud or simply walking along a beach. You could be in suburbia one minute and bamboo forest the next. One thing’s for sure; the views will be so spectacular that the effort of your hike will be quickly forgotten.
Participating in the hash will provide you with a fascinating glimpse into how the Grenadians live. Women juggling babies on their hips in brightly colored cottages can be seen through open doors. Elders sit peacefully peeling vegetables on the porch, watching children riding bikes or playing in the street. The hash is like a window into the heart of Grenada, the Grenada you won’t see on tour buses or in brochures.
You will likely feel totally out of your comfort zone while doing the hash, yet exhilarated at the same time. After an hour and a half of some serious endorphin-pumping exercise, hashers will find themselves back to where they started and unless you are at the head of the pack, the afterparty will generally be in full swing by the time you arrive.
At The Finish Line
In true Grenadian style, the beer will be cold, and the music will be loud, and after a few drinks, you may find yourself drawn to the dance floor. Everyone will be in high spirits from the hike, and if you’ve worked up a hunger, the jerk chicken will have never tasted so good.
It’s little wonder this local chapter gathers up to 400 participants each event! Each week the trail is set by a different ‘hash hare’ so no two hashes are ever the same. Whether you are four or eighty-four, (yes they are the respective ages of Grenada’s youngest and oldest HHH’s,) there’s a trail for all levels of fitness and stamina. All you really need is a good sense of humor and a thirst for adventure…and of course beer. Whether you decide to take the short, medium or long trail, the lure of a cold drink once you cross the finish line is enough to encourage you to push on.
While the drinking, dancing and BBQ are loads of fun, it is the gorgeous island of Grenada and its beautiful people that make the Grenadian hash a truly memorable experience. So, if you’re in Grenada on a Saturday afternoon and feel like getting your blood pumping, head along to one of their gatherings. The 5ec admissions fee ($2.00) is so affordable, even the most budget-conscious hikers can afford to attend, and public transport is often available to and from each location. If you prefer the comfort and convenience of a taxi, there are plenty of reliable drivers to choose from and plenty of people to share the cost. One thing’s for sure, the hash ticks all the boxes when it comes to having a seriously good time – fun, fitness, friends, frivolity and food. Sounds like the perfect Saturday afternoon to me!
For more information visit www.grenadahashouseharriers.com
If you’re interested in Hashing your way around the Caribbean, then be sure to also check out the HHH’s on St Kitts, Barbados and Antigua.