The Langkawi Beach Hash House Harriers celebrated its 500th Hash run on 28 September. When the circle formed on the beach before the run, there were a total of 71 Hashers including visitors from Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and as far away as Australia taking part in this benchmark event. The 500th Hash drew enthusiasts who embraced the 6.5-km run through the paddy fields, jungle, and kampungs of the Pantai Tengah area with fervor and enthusiasm.
This bi-weekly Langkawi social event has always attracted a variety of people; locals, expats, and tourists of all ages, from serious competitive athletes to casual participants. Universally, members refer to the Hash House Harriers as “a drinking club with a running problem,” indicating that the social element of the event is as important, if not more so, than any athleticism involved. Beer is an integral part of the Hash, though the balance between running and drinking differs between members, and imbibing is not a prerequisite.
The 500th HHH “run” was enthusiastically received and the many faces of both old and new, in addition to visiting, Hashers, glowed from the exertion of the run/walk/stumble as they trickled into the finishing area. After reacquainting with old friends and meeting new ones, the rather rowdy group was called to order in the form of a human circle by the Grandmaster (the master of ceremony, so to speak). He then appointed “executioners” to carry out the task of dousing whoever was called inside the circle with freezing cold water as Hashers sang and those called to the inner circle were challenged with down-downs. (A down-down challenge involves trying to consume a mug of beer, or soda, before the song ends, and those that fail get anointed with the ice-cold water!) It sounds silly, and well it is, but it’s all in good fun.
The sun had slipped beneath the horizon before the Grand Master called the circle to a close. On! On! (typically shouted by the lead runners when the true trail is found) for we were then off to fatCupid’s at La Pari-Pari for a celebratory meal of mouth-watering Malaysian Cuisine. The eatery has recently landed the coveted honor of currently being Langkawi’s #1 Restaurant on Trip Advisor! The happy Hashers eventually spilled over into the grassy grounds of the adjacent La Pari-Pari Hotel as they continued their revelry late into the night and ensure that the Langkawi Beach Hash House Harrier’s 500th was a memorable occasion, indeed.
Most people are unaware that the Hash House Harriers club originated in Malaysia. In 1938, three British army officers founded a club in what was then the Federated Malay States with the idea of having a version of the British tradition of “Hares and Hounds” to offset the excesses of the long weekend (aka a hangover). After meeting for some months, they were informed by the Registrar of Societies that as a group they would require a Constitution and an official name. One member of the group suggested the name “Hash House Harriers” after the Selangor Club’s men’s barracks, nicknamed the “Hash House” for its notoriously monotonous military food (hash). Thus, the Hash House Harriers became official.
Hashing died out during World War II with the invasion of Malaysia, but once the war was over, the hash was restarted by most of the original group. It was restricted to Malaysia until the early sixties when a Singapore chapter was established in 1962.The Hash then spread throughout the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, and eventually on to Europe and North America.
The Hash House Harriers is a truly Malaysian-born institution with more than 2,000 chapters now spanning the globe in more than 185 countries. The camaraderie and passion for running, drinking beer, and socialising continues its popularity as existing chapters grow and new chapters emerge throughout the world.
The Langkawi Beach Hash House Harriers is still going strong after more than 20 years. Hashes are open to visitors and residents alike. Whether you’re an experienced hasher or just curious about this popular activity and have a sense of adventure, it’s one of the best ways to see Langkawi Island and meet new people. With locations changing and new terrain sought out each time, the safety-innumbers sightseeing aspect, in addition to a wonderful local meal and unlimited beverages, an evening of hashing offers huge value for a negligible cost.
Running, singing silly songs, and drinking beer while being doused in cold water is all about a group of people having a good time and getting some exercise. You can find out information and directions to the next event at www.langkawibeachhash3. webs.com.
This article was written by TC Gerrard for The Expat magazine.
Source: The Expat November 2012
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