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» 04 Mar 2009

The International Running Club which is called the Hash House Harriers, which also known as the Hash, started in Mauritius in 1986. The Hashers, as the members are called, meet at a pre-arranged starting point where they run or walk on a trail previously marked out by two or three ‘Hares’. After the trail has been completed, the Hashers enjoy a beer or soft drink and a light snack.

The original Hash House Harriers started from a Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya in 1938. The runners started from the Clubhouse and afterwards they had lunch at the Club restaurant, which they named Hash House because its food was not very good. The runners were called Harriers as they likened themselves to the dogs that picked up the scraps from the back of the Club kitchen!

When the 2nd World War started many Hashers were posted elsewhere, either with the army or with other kinds of war work. The Japanese invaded Malaya in December 1941, and the last Hash Run, was held a week later. The Japanese crossed into Singapore soon afterwards, and the founder of the Hash House Harriers, Albert Stephen Gispert, was killed in action on February 11th 1942.

After the war the Hashers in Malaya started running again. The Hash slowly spread to many other countries, as Hashers from Malaya started up their own clubs when they were posted to other countries. Nowadays there are at least 1,700 Hash Chapters around the world, on every continent, even including Antarctica.

At that time all Clubs and Societies in Malaya had to be registered with the government and the original aims for the Hash were registered as:

•    To promote physical fitness among members.
•    To get rid of weekend hangovers.
•    To acquire a good thirst and satisfy it in beer.
•    To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel.

At the 50th Anniversary of the Mother Hash in Kuala Lumpur in 1988, the souvenir programme stated that Hashing was:

…a blend of race and culture, of colour and creed, where mechanics mingle freely with managing directors, all together in a common endeavour - the Hash.

One of the most endearing things about Hashing is that it is a great leveller. As the statement above points out, it doesn’t matter whether you have a humble job or you have a job with many responsibilities – everyone is treated the same on the Hash. The Mauritian Hash has a solid core of Mauritians and Hashers from all parts of the world including those from Britain, Germany, Australia, Korea, Poland, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, South Africa, Israel, Denmark and the USA.

So it was the British expats in Malaya who can be blamed for inflicting this strange activity upon the rest of the world. Despite its origins, Hashing did not reach England until 1968, when a Scotsman called Richard McAllister returned to England with his Army Unit from Malaysia.

It has been suggested that the Hash has no rules. This is reflected in the fact that each Hash is ‘governed’ by what is usually called the Mismanagement Committee or Hash Hierarchy. This apparent lack of organisation is not really true.

The Mauritius Hash House Harriers, for instance, is a well organised club which is led by a Grand Master, ably assisted by a number of Joint Masters. The general ‘discipline’ of the club is administered by the Religious and Sex Adviser, who ‘punishes’ offenders by awarding them a ‘Down-Down’ which is the act of drinking a beer to the count of ten! A Trail Master organises the ‘Hares’ who, in turn, volunteer to set a trail on a particular Sunday, and this involves paying a number of visits to the trail area to make sure they know the surrounding countryside in order to set an interesting trail. Other people who form a valuable part of the Mismanagement Committee are the Cellar Master, Hash Softy, Hash Nosh and the Iceman who all make sure that the refreshments are in place after the Hash Trail has been completed.

Like all successful clubs and societies, the Hash has a Treasurer, who is referred to as Hash Cash, and a Secretary, who is known as Hash Trash. The Hash Market, which is usually administered by a lady Hasher, is a popular ‘stall’ where items of Hash clothing can be bought. The Hash Flash takes photographs of our activities, whilst the Hash Horn helps Hashers find their way if they get lost on the trail!!

During the Christmas period of each year, the Hash holds a special run called the Red Dress Run. In December 2008 this run was held in Mahébourg when 112 runners and walkers passed through the streets giving out sweets, chocolates, biscuits and cakes. Some runners ran through the General Hospital giving out presents to the patients. The run was followed by dinner and dancing at the Jardin Des Beau Vallon restaurant.

The Mauritius Hash has a prize-winning Website on where further details of the MHHH can be found.

Visitors from overseas Hashes are welcome.

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