European Spotlight: Rainer Rickers, Hash House Harrier
When I think hash, I think corned beef and potatoes, and that’s not what your group is about, is it?
No, it’s about two things: running and socializing. It’s a great way to meet people.
So, what is a hash exactly?
The name comes from the people who started it. It was stared by British runners in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They wanted to get together and run, but also have fun together. And they met in a place called the Hash House, and that’s where it comes from.
Are there any rules?
There are no rules. Rule No. 1: There are no rules.
So, how do you keep track of what’s going on?
With markings. The trail is marked with flour, and every intersection you find a marking that indicates it is a check. All directions are marked, but only one is correct. So the front runners check out the right trail so the slow people can catch up.
So what did you do to get your name?
I was wearing leggings. They looked psychedelic, you know those old ’70s-style psychedelic colors?
Yeah. They looked really bad, and my last name is Rickers. So “Ricker’s Knickers.”
Knickers because knickers is the British word for underwear, so that’s where I got the name.
What do you say to a kid who wants to get into hashing?
If you want to run and have fun as a combination, hash. And it accommodates everybody — slow and faster people — because after awhile you always have checks, and that’s where the slower people can catch up.
Your club’s Web site says you’re “A drinking club with a running problem,” which shows that you take hydration seriously.
We always have water; even during the hash there will be a stop and there will be water provided to you. But there will also be beer provided.
What separates hashing from volksmarching, other than the fact that hashing gets you to the pub a lot faster?
Ah, we move a little faster. Volksmarch is pretty much a walk. And we run, but we are not fast runners. It’s not like running a marathon or a 5K. It’s just a fun run.
Is hash scored?
No. No times are taken.
Why is it that hashing hasn’t seemed to catch on in the States?
It is in the States, all over the United States ... the White House Hash House Harriers have an average of a hundred people every week. And there are four or five different hashes just in D.C.
Can the clubs get pretty crazy?
They can get crazy. As an example I can give you White House again. They organize a red-dress run every year. Everybody runs in red dresses, and we’re talking 800 people running around the Mall in D.C. in red dresses.
So you’ve never had to wear a dress with the Hash House Harriers?
I’ve worn a red dress.
With the Heidelberg Hash House Harriers?
Yes. We do that once a year, too, but we do it in November, not at the actual White House red-dress run.
Is it cold to run in a dress in the winter?
It is, you just wear hose.
Interview by Matt Millham.
Title: Hasher. Member of the Heidelberg Hash House Harriers, known as H4
Day job: Army Community Service for the U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg, Germany
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