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The Perfectly Laid Trail I

Seriously, though … here’s one of the better guides to haring and laying trail I’ve seen, courtesy of Hogtown H3 (Toronto, Canada). The original author is unknown, but it was shared with the Half-Mind Weblog by Toronto hasher Rose eh.

Some advice in the guide may work with your own kennel’s way of hashing, some may not, but in general it’s solid and IMO every hasher could benefit by reading it.

By the way, the original post was several years old and featured an earlier hare guide from Hogtown. That guide disappeared some time ago, leaving a hole in this post. A reader noticed and alerted me to the missing content. Thanks, Half-Mind Weblog readers, for helping me keep this blog up to date and useful to hashers!

On On,
Flying Booger

Hogtown H3 Haring Starter Guide

If you are new to Hashing and Haring, here are some tips to help you set your first trail. Or perhaps you are a slow learner and want to improve the next trail you set.

Note, these are not rules. They are merely tips and customs as practised by the Hogtown Hash House Harriers and many other Hashes worldwide. Other Hashes may also have different customs. You may want to incorporate a custom you experienced elsewhere, feel free.

Notify The Hare Raiser. The first step is to inform the hare raiser that you want to hare a run. All members of HogtownH3 are encouraged to hare at least a few times a year. Whether you do, or do not have a date in mind, speak to the hare raiser about available dates. Once you have decided, inform the hare raiser as far in advance as possible, even if you have not chosen a location yet; fill the calender! First time hares are advised to pair up with an experienced co-hare. If you need help getting a co-hare, the hare raiser, can assist

Starting Location. You will need to find a starting location (on-in) for your run, this will also usually be the end location (on-after), but it does not have to be. If you start and end in the same location, it is an A-A run, if it is a different location, it is an A-B.

Most of the time, the location will be a bar, sometimes the home of a hasher or even an outdoor meet up point. The important factor is that a supply of beer be available for the on-after. If it is a bar, then choose an establishment with affordable beer (one that sells pitchers is advisable) and that has a space where hashsers can be hashers without offending the other patrons; a so called “hash friendly’ bar.

It is helpful to make sure the location can safely store any items like backpacks or coats that hashsers don’t want to take on trail. Often one or more hashers will drive to the on-in and will store these items in their cars (bag-wagon), but a back-up plan is good.

Accessibility. Speaking of driving. Hogtown frowns upon drinking and driving. While some people drive to a hash, we expect them to be responsible. When choosing a location, easy public transit access is very desirable. This is especially important for week night hashes where hashers may not have a lot of time to travel from work.

Beer Check. You will also need to choose a beer check location (BC). The same criteria generally applies to this as the on-in/on-after: there is beer and the location is hash friendly.

Beer. Beer will be required at the beer check (BC) and for circle at the on-after. If these events are in a bar, then the treasurer (hash-cash) will take care of it. Other locations will require that you plan to have beer there in advance. Beer that is purchased for the beer checks and circle will be covered by the hash-cash (you will be reimbursed). Additional beer should be available for the on-after that hashers can individually reimburse you for. It is also a good idea to have some water or non-alcoholic liquids available the the BC and on-after. You will be reimbursed for these too.

Hash Cash. Remember that we collect $7 hash cash from everybody participating. As the hare, you will be exempt from this (just a little “thank you” from Hogtown). When planning beer, it is important to seek out inexpensive beer supply so that the hash can afford it. Outdoor and private venues for beer checks and circle provide the best bang for buck, especially if you arrange low cost beer.

There may be times where you really have a great trail in mind, but there simply is no low cost bar around. If this happens and it looks like $7 is not enough to cover our activities, then you may suggest a higher hash cash, say $10, but you must notify the hash in advance so this is posted with the run details. A higher cost should somehow reflect a higher value such as more beer, an exotic trail or maybe a special beer location. Even better, you may find a way to supply even cheaper beer (brew your own!) and you could choose to lower the hash cash for your run, say $5, or we could simply drink lots more.

Trail. Now the fun part. First you will need to decide what type of trail to set. This may be a preset trail (dead) or a live trail. First time hares are encouraged to start with a preset trail, but it’s up to you.

A preset, or dead trail, is one where you lay out the marks earlier in the day, or even the day before if there is no threat of it being washed away. Trail can be any length you are comfortable with, but the convention is between 4-6 KM. Weeknight trials are typically shorter than weekends. If the weather is cold, that might also lead to a shorter trail. Generally the goal would be to ensure the slowest in the pack can finish in under one hour. If you are setting trail on a wonderful Saturday afternoon and plan to make it a long haul, it is a courtesy to notify the hash so those who know they can’t handle it have a choice.

At the beginning of the hash, we will circle up, and you will be invited to provide a ‘chalk talk’. Here you will explain your marks and any information you think will be helpful to the hashers. For instance, “look out for the ice on trail!”

If you choose to set a live trail, then you need to inform the GM or acting GM. Once it is decided to head out on trail, you will be given a head start (typically 10-15 min) and the others will wait (probably have a beer) and then circle up. The GM or acting GM will provide the chalk talk on your behalf, so you need to inform them of your marks before leaving. It is a courtesy to the hash to make sure if there are people who can’t do trail (bashers not hashsers) have an option to short cut to the beer check. One simple solution is to have a phone with you and let enough people know your number in case they get badly lost. Hashers should not expect too much codling, but perhaps you just want to be a nice hare that day.

Finally, it is a custom that if the hare gets caught setting a live trail, they will lose their pants, to be returned in circle. There isn’t really any history of this having happened in Hogtown, but it’s up to you!

Marking trail. By now you should have hashed enough to know the typical marks. Not all hashes use the same marks, so here are the main ones we use in Hogtown.

Hash marks (lines) or blobs of flour. These indicate the path of the trail. It is good practise to place them generously, say every two telephone poles apart or less on roadways and a similar distance when off-road (shiggy). When a hasher has seen three of these marks in a row, they will assume they are on trail. You can, but it is not good practise to change direction using hash marks. If the trail changes direction you should provide either a check or arrow.

Arrows. Arrows should always indicate true trail. They are most useful for when you want change direction, say around a corner. They are also useful if you know it might be a long distance before you can place your next mark. An arrow will lead the hashers to where trail picks up again.

Checks. These are circles (O) that indicate that the trail can be going in any direction from that point. From here hashers will need to check for trail by scouting around to see where it continues. They will be looking for at least three hash marks or an arrow or another check to find trail.

Falses. These are either F marks or X marks that indicate a false trail. When setting a check you may choose to set a few possible trails, with only one being true trail. False trails should be two or less hash marks that are followed by a F or X. When a hasher encounters these, they will go back to the check and look in other directions.

BC and BN. These are religious marks that indicate the location of the beer check (BC) and the pending location of the beer check (BN or beer near). The BN is typically marked at the last change of direction before the BC, it might be in a check (BN with a circle around it) or it may be accompanied by an arrow. There are other variations on the BC, that indicate other religious experiences. These can be things like a shooter check (SC), a candy check (CC) or something nice to look at: a view check (VC).

Corrections. If you accidentally lay a wrong mark, it best to clear it or cross it out. A simple solution is to draw several lines though it. Hashers will know it was not what you intended.

Marking materials. Trail should be marked in non-permanent, biodegradable material. The two most common are sidewalk chalk and flour. The benefit to sidewalk chalk is that it is easy to draw elaborate marks and it is easy to draw on vertical surfaces, which can be helpful in bad weather. The downside to chalk is it takes longer to mark on the ground since you have to bend over at every mark and depending on the colour, can be hard to see in the dark or on snowy pavement. You also can’t easily mark on off-road surfaces.

Flour has many advantages. It is cheap, you can lay trail on the run and large blobs can easily be seen on dark surfaces. You can also spike it with coloured drink powder so it stains snow when laying trail in winter.

On rainy days it will also last a bit longer on the ground than chalk. The two big disadvantages to flour are that it takes more effort to draw symbols and most critically it can lead to problems with the authorities.

Although flour is harmless, it is often mistaken for either dog poison or some sort of terrorist act. Fortunately in Hogtown, the authorities appear to know who we are and we have had less issues in recent years. There are two strategies that can help you when using flour. If you are marking an off road trail, try to mark trees and vertical surfaces with flour a few feet above the ground rather than on the ground. A handful of flour thrown at a tree will usually stick. This will help not alarm any dog walker. If you get stopped by someone, politely explain what you are doing and put some flour in your mouth to show them it is non-toxic. This will also be your opportunity to send them to our website and invite them to the next hash.

Other tools. The best trails are ones you have explored yourself, however Google Maps is extremely helpful when searching and considering locations. A great online tool is Gmap Pedometer (http://www.gmap-pedom…. This overlays on top of Google Maps and allows you to design a trail and measure distances. You can save and print this and bring it along when setting trail.

Strategies. When planning and laying a trail, it is important to keep in mind the spirit of hashing. Hashing is not a race, it is a social activity involving running. Obviously trail should be fun and challenges are fun. Group challenges are even more fun. The trail marks described above are your tools for making this happen. Marks should be close enough together that hashers don’t get frustrated or end up cold, miserable and lost. At the same time, if trail is too easy, it will quickly become boring.

One of the most important tools is the check. This not only provides the challenge to the hashsers of finding trail, but it serves the valuable purpose of helping keep the pack together. A well laid trial will have very little distance between the front running bastard (FRB) and dead fucking last (DFL) hasher. Checks slow down the FRB and give others time to catch up. They also reward the FRB with the opportunity to do all the work checking for the others. It is, however, possible to have too many checks. When this happens it just ends up taking too long for hashsers to finish trail.

When setting trail it is a good idea to assess your own ability and compare yourself to the other hashsers you know. If you are a serious runner, remember others may not be, and if you are a casual runner, remember there may be those who will disappear from the pack and need to be reigned in, but will also get frustrated (and probably cold) if they can’t stretch their legs a little. If you are setting a long trail, plan for a short cut option for the slowest of the pack, or even an alternate, shorter ‘turkey trail’.

Another consideration when laying trail is to mix up the running surfaces. For many hashsers, concrete can be hard on the joints. Running off road trails (shiggy) is more interesting, a better workout and generally less painful. Again, remember the challenges, mud, river crossings obstacles are all key parts of a great hash trail. Be wary of serious danger like river crossings after a major storm, but be creative and see if you can lead the pack through that swamp!

Have fun! If you set a trail you enjoy, others will too. Challenge yourself and share the challenge. Haring as well as hashing in general is a great way to get to know your city. Consider haring as a chance to go explore a corner of town you haven’t before. And remember, by haring (frequently) you are helping keep a great thing alive.

© 2018, Flying Booger. All rights reserved.


About Flying Booger  Hash House Harrier, man about town.


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