A Brit running/drinking game comes to America.
Jeff Chazen was surprised but pleased when some 30 shorts-and-running-shoes-clad customers showed up at his Mardi Gras Bar & Grill in Scottsdale, Arizona, early one evening.
“They had a few drinks and went running,” Chazen recalls.
This is not an isolated incident. More and more operators around the world have been surprised by impromptu visits from the so-called “hashers,” competitive runners who drink—or vice versa.
Founded by a group of bored Brits in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur and named after the “hash house” where the first club met, hashing is a growing phenomenon, with over 1,800 clubs in over 178 countries. There are nearly 500 Hash House Harrier clubs in the United States alone.
“Hunts,” as the hash runs are called, are scheduled via word of mouth or Web page calendars. The “hare,” or lead runner, takes off and leaves a trail of clues in the form of paper notes or chalk or flour trails. Then the “hounds” or “harriers” take off in pursuit.
“First we meet up in a bar or restaurant, have a few drinks, go for a run, stop for beer checks [or “BC” as it's marked in chalk in front of pit stop bars] and then end up at a place afterwards to eat and drink,” explains Josh Parry, the “Great Pretender” of the Phoenix Hash House Harriers, who dropped in that evening at Mardi Gras.
Parry, who is opening a lounge this fall, believes that restaurant and bar owners are happy to see the hashers, especially when they are warned ahead of time—as is often the case. “A hash will bring in anywhere from 20 to 45 people to a restaurant.”