Those Hashers are strange: What are their customs?

The Hash is not a competition

You can join us, regardless of your running ability, or the lack thereof. You may run fast, average, or slowly. It doesn’t matter at all.
Hashers will help each other to navigate the trail and ensure that everybody completes the trail in a reasonable time.

Hares will set the trail with paper

Every week, Hares prepare the trail by marking it with shredded paper (shreddy). Occasionally, when hashing in the city, we use flour or mark the trails with chalk or crayon.

On the day of the Hash, runners will find the trail by following the paper. That may sound easy enough, but ….

The Hares lay the paper in such a way that fast runners are slowed down as much as possible, so that the slower ones can catch up.

They do this by adding Checks and False Trails to the trail and often they hide the shreddie on the trail behind bushes, so the Hashers can’t see it easily.

Checks and False trails

Checks and False Trails seem irritating at first, especially if you came to do some really fast running. But after a while you will realize that they suit everyone. Fast runners do a lot of checking and false trails, so they run a lot more, while slower runners can catch up and complete the trail in almost the same time.

How do checks and False trails work?

The pictures show a trail from A to B to C, marked by paper (the white dots). At B, there are choices.

A Check at B (top map):

A check is a circle of shreddy placed around a tree, stick, grass, or rock. In the picture the Check is at B and Hashers do not know which is the correct trail. Fast runners check in every direction, shouting “Looking”. As soon as one of them finds the 3rd blob of paper (shreddy) after the check, he knows that it is the correct trail and he calls “ON ON”. Everyone now goes to the correct trail and one of them “breaks the check” showing the correct direction for those coming after him or her.

False trails (bottom map):

The second picture shows the same trail, but without check at B. Fast runners check out every direction, many incorrect and marked with an “X” made of shreddy.


Calling (shouting) during the run

Because it is not easy to find the right trail, it is customary to call out when you are “on”. There are standard calls:

  • On on: the most common call. You call, or better shout it, when you are certain to be on the correct trail;
  • Looking: After a check, while you are unsure if you’re on the correct trail;
  • Check Back: If you discovered to be on the incorrect trail, often after you saw a cross on the trail;
  • Are you?: You call this if you feel a bit lonely and not sure you are on the right trail. Hashers in front of you will reply with ON ON, so you can follow them;
  • Hash Halt: Only called by the Hares or the GM, if they fear that the Hashers are too spread out and some could get lost. When hearing Hash Halt, the front runners must stop immediately and wait until further instructions by the Hares.

The Circle

Now we come to the strangest thing that happens on the Hash, the Circle after each run. What to make of that?

After returning from the run, you will have a few drinks and change clothes and then you here the call “Circle up!”.

Apparently everybody knows what to do, as they form a large circle, with some ice blocks in the centre. Then the GM comes in and calls for the Hares to be in the centre.

Several Hashers comment on the run and the Hares’ performance, but it’s all rather negative and it ends in them getting a score of -6, or -10, or -69 for their work.

Then they have to down a beer (or water for non-drinkers) bottom up (100%) and that’s it.

These poor souls, who spent a lot of time preparing a trail, laying paper and guiding us all through the process get rather an abuse and even may end up sitting on the ice as a punishment. What is all this about?


It is strange, admittedly. It origins from the old English tradition that no one should be too proud of himself and in the circle, we cut everybody, not only the Hares, to size. Except the GM. He is always right!

Hmmm…, it still sounds very strange.

Trust us that it‘s all done in good spirits. Most of the “abuse” is tongue-in-cheek, a kind of joke and absolutely not serious.

After the Hares, it’s the turn of first-time hashers, newcomers, or virgins, as they are called. They get some silly questions to answer and drink a down-down (beer or water). Then it’s time for returners getting the same treatment, again followed by down-downs.

Then, it’s time for some Awards: They include free T-shirts presented to 2nd-timers and to seasoned Hashers who have completed 50 or 100 runs and more. All followed by down-downs and accompanied by special down-down songs.

Then it’s time for “charges”, of any Hasher to any other Hasher, for their misdeeds, or by their countrymen, or whatever. Any Hasher, except the GM. He can’t be charged.



“Serious” charges are not only rewarded with a down-down, but the Hasher charged will have to sit on ice. It’s a joke and nothing serious. Above all, in Saigon’s climate it can hardly be called a punishment.

Rules on the Hash

The Hash is very relaxed and the rules are not serious at all. We only have two real rules:

  1. The GM is always right;
  2. If the GM is wrong, rule 1 applies.

That’s it, no more. Now it’s clear why you can’t charge the GM: He’s always right, so how can we charge him?


Social drinking

After the circle, we take 5-10 minutes, to drink one final beer, or to go into the woods, before entering the bus for the return trip.