The best way to describe hashing is as a fun run with an R rating. In Houston, you can participate in this triple treat on the reg with the Houston Hashers, who create 5k trails that are equal parts challenging and hilarious.
While you’re sure to find experienced runners taking to these trials—I’m talking some major marathoners who easily to knock back Jell-o shots before traipsing on into the Houston horizon—there are many who are prefer jogging, even walking, as they explore the terrain for the trail.
How does it work?
The runners, or hashers, are searching for the trail set by a hare. Some runs will have a live hare, meaning the hare(s) will embark on setting your 5k trail shortly before take off. Other trails were set prior to starting time. Regardless, hashers find the trail, which is indicated by different chalk markings. The chalk markers have been set meters apart. Three trail markers in a row means you’re good to go. However some markers mean you’re on a false trail and need to start over while others let you know you’re at least in the vicinity of the it. Still others will occasionally let you know when it’s your turn to flash your fellow runners; this is optional, of course.
Much to my dismay/relief, my hashing experience didn’t have any such boob- or ball-markers, as they're called. I was, admittedly, curious to see who would pull up their tops and drop their trousers, but then again, I also went with a coworker, so perhaps that was for the best…
This particular hash started at the Taylor St. Target in the Heights, giving me a gorgeous, somewhat familiar yet disconnected view of Houstonia's surrounding area. We went behind buildings, across train tracks, on soggy caliche, around a cemetery, through a densely wooded and littered area where you had to duck low hanging branches and high-step over trash. Eventually we slipped, literally, down a high-weeded slope to the bayou trails before returning up top via a feeder road, crossing more tracks and weaving through a quaint neighborhood—much to the porch-sitters’ amusement—as the sun started to set.
At a rest point, where libations including water, Gatorade, vodka, beer and Jell-o shots were dispersed, we stopped for longer than anticipated, causing us to bring up the rear of the run by a long shot. As we made our way into Buffalo Bayou Park for the last leg or the run, we were far behind even the stragglers, our eyes searching for any trail markers. Without phones, since we both opted to leave them in the car, we kept on, taking turns carrying our four-legged friend.
Eventually, a turn took us to a back road, which led to another feeder, which finally led to a cacophonous greeting from the other somewhat buzzed, hashers, who offered us more beer before arranging themselves in a circle for closing chants.
For those exhibitionists that pursue hashing, they’ll eventually be knighted with their own hasher name—typically vulgar but in someway representative of their hashing experience, which they’ll be addressed by during runs (e.g.: pop rocks, jail bait).
While it was all a little overwhelming and also physically challenging. The camaraderie, the cussing, the teasing and the mystery of the run brings out everything you love about group activities, alcohol, adventure and Houston together.
Visit the Houston Hash House Harriers for a time that suits you. You’ll find evening and midday runs. Newbies, or virgins, run free, while others request the contribution of a six-pack or some spare cash for beers.