My dad told us that if there was one club in the Solomon Islands that we had to try it was Honiara Hash House Harriers.
Touted as “a drinking club with a jogging problem,” ‘hares’ leave a paper trail for punters to follow by walking or running, followed by drinking and singing silly songs.
Sounded lame. But we went anyway because we only have like one friend here.
We showed up feeling like the first day of school. We were a bit uncertain as to what we are supposed to be doing and keenly waited for an authority figure dressed in a rabbit costume.
Our leader turned out to be disappointingly average and was dressed in run-of-the-mill running gear and shoes that looked like they’d never seen a paved sidewalk before. This man was the Grand Master and responded to hashy friends by the name of Priscilla.
He gave us a quick rundown of how to hash: “Follow either the walking or the running hares, and keep a lookout for shredded paper symbols and stacks”.
We agonised over the most important decision we’d have to make all week: do we label ourselves as runners, or walkers?
The fit girl with compression socks doing deep pre-run stretches gave us the impression that the runners were serious people. So we opted for the walking trail. Also, as a walker, it’s easier to fully immerse ourselves in the sights at a pace more conducive to appreciating nice scenery…
Someone on the Hash committee equipped us with lollipops to give out to pikinini in the villages. We don’t condone giving out lollies to children in a country where child malnutrition is extremely high, but we also didn’t want to be those party poopers on our first day at hash. The search for hare crop-circles with lollipops in hand began!
We started moving and soon found ourselves out of town and amidst the quaintness that is behind Honiara: villages, ups, downs, plantations, gardens, goat tracks, log bridges and other more tenuous planks the locals try to get away with calling “bridges”.
We realised that we were exercising and touristing at the same time. Nailing it!
For everyone else that wasn’t us, we were just a group of sweaty expats stomping in people’s backyards and kumara patches and handing out things that give kids cavities.
About an hour and a bit later, our eyeballs were full to the brim of seeing a side of Honiara that we didn’t know existed. We made it back to the carpark in the dark and raided the Hash chilly bin for much-deserved hydration. We made a mental note that walking in the Solomon Islands, is not the same as walking in a pleasantly cool country such as New Zealand.
With everyone with a vessel in hand, we “circled up” and the singing and drinking commenced with special celebrations and rude songs for notable characters during the run.
As Hash newbies, beers were thrust into our hands and we were serenaded the ‘virgin’ song as part of our initiation. Apparently, if we show our faces enough times we get endearing nicknames like “Punchdrunk” and “Muffdiver” – that’s exciting, I’ve always wanted a rapper name. We reciprocated respectfully by skulling our beers to a chant of “Down, down, down, down…”.
And so ends our first Hash. We were not expecting such rich and heartwarming experience.
So much so, I think we’ll come back next week.
We liked hash so much we now try to go every Monday at 5:15 pm. You might have heard stories that Hash is for a bunch of salty, pervy old men. It is in other countries, but not in Honiara. Honiara Hash Harriers is strongly family-friendly with old, young and newer humans in the mix. They still have rude names and silly songs, but it’s toned down a lot. It’s definitely plenty of fun, a great way see what’s behind town, and a good place to meet some new peeps.
After becoming regulars, Hash isn’t really that serious. There are oldies and youngies walking, and we only saw compression-sock girl once. If you can comfortably run 6-8 k, you’ll be fine running hash. Walk your first one to set your expectations as sometimes the trails can be a bit gnarly. The definition of gnarly is steep, slippery, and ‘that’s not a bridge!’.
If you’re interested in joining Honiara Hash Harriers, stalk their updates on Google Groups.