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Hash House Harriers pick up the pace.

The sounding of a horn, coupled with the group cry, "On, on, on" amid a pounding of feet against the earth, appear to describe the opening scene of the latest war epic. But no, these are the sounds and sights more associated with Hash House Harriers (HHH or H3) groups worldwide.

The Hashers, or H3, is an international group of non-competitive running social clubs that claim to be "A drinking club with a running problem," according to its motto.

An event organized by a local chapter, or kennel, is known as a hash, hash run or simply hashing, with participants calling themselves hashers or hares and hounds.

Hashing originated in December 1938 in Selayang Quarry, Selangor, Malaysia, when a group of British colonial officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British paper chase or "hare and hounds."

Seoul is no stranger to hashers. It has five chapters, also called kennels, comprising Seoul HHH (male only), Seoul PMS (female only), Southside (mixed), Seoul Full Moon (mixed) and Yongsan Kimchi (mixed) that gather on weekends at various locations around the greater Seoul metropolitan area.

A typical hash run involves meeting at a designated point, a group chant, the trail leader -- known as the hound -- sounding the horn, and members beginning the hash following chalk arrows the hare has set.

There are two simple variations.

A "Dead Hare" is where the trail is set beforehand by the hare. It generally starts and finishes at the same point.

The "Live Hare" is where the hare sets the trail during the hash, normally running ahead of the pack to an undisclosed destination.

The aim is to catch the hare.

Sawdust, flour and shredded paper are also used to mark the trail. The hare changes with each hash run.

Chapters also follow H3 traditions, including members typically given a "hash name" as the use of real names is discouraged.

Following each hash, a circle, led by chapter leadership, provides a time to socialize and includes welcoming new members, drinking songs and joke telling.

Proud of having "Half a Mind since 1972," Seoul Hash House Harriers is Korea's oldest continuous kennel and was founded in June 1972 by Ian Young, originally from Hong Kong H3.

Seoul HHH meets every Saturday afternoon, regardless of the weather, to run a course of about 10 kilometers through Seoul's mountains, parks and streets.

The aim of Seoul HHH is to have fun, keep fit and see more of the city.

"The Seoul boys always manage to land on their feet, and then take off running toward the beer," Seoul HHH chapter leader Joo Dog said. "Six days a week, I am pro-Korea and very interested in being a part of this community but on Saturdays, I'm a Seoul Hasher, and that forms its own peculiar sort of identity, where the shared difficulty of trail and desire for beer make us all into brothers. People come and go, but Seoul Hash sticks with you always."

The hare for last weekend's Seoul HHH hash was International Dicklomat and lead hound of the pack was Just Call Me the Snake.

"I chose a route that has some good views and interesting areas," Dicklomat said.

The Chungmuro trail weaved its way through the base of Namsan, older hanok villages and modern Seoul business streets.

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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Geographic Code:9SOUT
Date:Feb 3, 2018
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