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Starting Out

This is a letter I wrote to a couple of experienced hashers who sought my advice on starting a kennel in a town with no hash:

Dear LC & NDNR,

Please forgive me for not replying sooner.

Starting a new hash from scratch. Um. Obviously, you’re going to have to set the first few trails and do all the work, then help the first few volunteers lay their trails. The best way to do trails & beer/snacks, IMHO, is for the hares to do it all, at least at first. That way nothing gets screwed up.

The easiest trails are pre-marked A-to-A trails, but you probably knew that. On pre-marked trails, the hares usually put the first mark somewhere out of sight of the pack at the meeting point, then let the pack mill around until they find it. Then the hare sweeps trail behind the pack. A-to-Bs are tougher, and live A-to-Bs are the toughest. If you have more than one hare, though, you can send one back to fetch the beer, snacks, and bags and drive them to the B. I think any A-to-B hash needs some sort of B-van – another thing the hares typically supply.

As for beer/snacks, there are many ways. Some hashes are BYOB, and no money changes hands – BYOB hashes normally have A-to-A trails, since all the hashers’ stuff is locked in their cars at the start. In other hashes the hares buy the beer and snacks, and reimburse themselves after the hash with money collected from the pack. Some hashes set up a beer fund out of money collected and give the hares a per-event budget. Some hashes are so organized they have a dedicated biermeister who takes care of everything.

I’d start simple and work up.

The way I see it, you have two objectives. One, get people to show up. Two, show them a good time so they’ll come back. If you achieve those two objectives, your hash will catch on and eventually stand on its own.

Getting people to show up. Word of mouth, flyers at local running stores & gyms, a notice in the company paper, even an article or announcement in the local paper (most newspapers have a “what’s going on this weekend” column).

Showing them a good time. Unless you know everyone you plan to invite to the first hash, you can’t be sure what’ll please them. Probably they’ll like a good hard cross-country trail (but nothing life-threatening), and they’ll probably like the beer & soda at the end. They may be put off by gross drunkitude, really bad songs, and nasty nicknames, so I’d start off with “He’s a hasher” and maybe “Why was she born so beautiful” until your core pack gets broken in. Some hashes say fuck ‘em if they can’t take it, but in my experience, hashes like that lose a lot of first-timers.

The short answer is you’ll have to work real hard two or three months, but it’ll be worth it! Good luck – hope this helps.

- Flying Booger

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