Setting a run seems easy, until you try it. Here are some tips on making yours a success.
Planning your run
- You should plan to have your run last between 40 to 60 minutes. A simple approach is to keep the real trail inside a box 2.0 km by 1.5 km. The checkbacks and false trails can wander outside if need be. A great hour-long run can be set in an area considerably smaller if you are careful. As a rule of thumb, it will take about half as long to run it as it takes to set it by walking.
- Choose your location carefully. Give the hashers something special. A bad run in a great location gets better reviews than a great run in a bad location. Hills, a view, shiggy, etc.
- Water crossings are always kind of neat.
- Wise hares reccie a run a few days before the run, especially if it is in unfamiliar territory.
Setting your run
In Edmonton trails are marked with dots, usually flour, white in the summer and coloured in the winter when there’s snow and ice on the ground. Use flagging when in the woods or high grass when flour won’t be visible on the ground. A check is marked with a circle of dots surrounding a dot in the centre. Here the markings stop and the FRBs (Front Running Bastards) have to spread out to search for trail. The dots should reappear roughly 100 metres, depending on the options. Sometimes you’ll want to use a false trail, marked by an “X”, to indicate to the pack that they have to go all the way back to the check and search in another direction. Another option to make the pack work harder is to use a checkback, indicated by three parallel lines. The pack has to go back somewhere between the checkback and the check to find a trail branching off from the main trail.
- Make your marks obvious. The purpose of the marks isn’t to slow people down but to suck in the FRBs faster and farther than they ever cared to go. The FRBs are slowed down by a devious trail, not by devious markings.
- Be careful when your trail gets close to itself. Either mark the possible overlaps with several checkbacks or guard it during the run. This may break suggestion #4.
- It’s extremely hard to have too many checks. Setting checkbacks on them can take a lot of time. With two hares it may take up to three hours to set a run. With three hares about two hours. False trails and checkbacks help keep the pack together so use them liberally.
- If you are setting the trail the day before, be particularly careful when setting marks around schools. You may have to remark those sections the next day.
- Be aware that marks weather differently depending on weather and marking surface. If you think it might snow, put a little snow in with your coloured flour. Flour becomes brown, weathered and almost invisible after the smallest amount of rain. Remember that white flour shows up best on darkest spots. If it’s windy and you must mark on sidewalks, try rubbing the flour into the surface of the concrete so it’s less likely to blow away.
- Some non-hashers have been known to come out of their houses after you have finished marking the trail and erase your marks. If a local resident sees you marking the trail and asks what you’re doing, explain in an open and genial fashion. Try not to act like a crazy person.
- A lot of runs kind of peter out at the end. Try to avoid this. You can set the end first. Be careful during the route-choosing phase. After you’ve been marking the trail for 2-3 hours you get a little tired of doing it and relax. This may cause the end of the run to peter out. Near the end of the run don’t go to near the on-in unless you want the pack to ignore the rest of your trail. Another hare once said that a well set run can be run backwards. There is only one known example of this being tried and the hares screwed up at the start because no-one could find the start of the run. Apparently the people who ran it backwards thought it was an ok trail. After I read these instructions I have since seen this happen at an Alberta hash.
- The goal at any check is to have options. Always at least two good ones and sometimes three or four. Choose the non-obvious direction once in a while.
- Choose to be consistent about running on the streets or the back alleys. Choose to be inconsistent. It is a conscious choice.
- When setting a run in flour, or with tape when in the woods, have a co-hare come behind you about 8-10 metres and they will know if the trail is as obvious as you think. This works really well in brush.
- Set some long and short checkbacks and false trails.
- Try to use terrain to your advantage. You can tempt them with uphill and downhill. Try to make the FRBs shortcut a longcut.
- If you say every checkback is marked, then mark them; especially if it is cold!
- Be aware and sensitive of the running conditions. Don’t attempt overly steep terrain in the wet or icy. When it’s really cold a departure point part way through from where the cold wimps can easily go home is thoughtful.
- Always consider the back of the packers and their need for shortcuts, especially after a stretch where the FRBs can just use their jets.
- Incorporate loops in your run. The FRBs can run them in their entirety and the back of the packers can use them to short cut.
Running your run
On the day of the run, try to park your car so that you’ll be able to make a quick getaway after the down-down circle.
Don’t run with the front of the pack. It’s easier to give advice to the FRBs. If the FRBs screw themselves, so be it. They can find the trail or waste themselves trying.
After the Run
Choose a great on-on with lots of cheap beer and the other points won’t matter a whole lot. If a hasher complains to you about your run, remember the two magic words.
Visit the on-on location. Make sure it is large enough to accommodate the pack. This is especially important in the summer when the pack is sometimes numbers over 100. Talk with the owner or manager of the bar and make sure that they understand that we re coming in during a usually quiet time so they may have extra staff on hand. Call them a day or two before the run to make sure we are still going to be there.
Be first to arrive at the on-on to start the pouring of the beers. The Religious Advisor will usually try to down-down the hares early on so you can quietly leave for the on-on (you’ll want to try to park where you can leave without having to drive through the down-down circle). If the on-on is 5 or more minutes away, you can make a quick call on your cell phone to get them to start pouring beer. Remember to drive safely!
Have someone collecting the money at the door (currently $8) from those who will be drinking. It works best to have only one person dealing with the bartender on beer orders. Let the bartender know who that person is and make sure they know to take orders for beer from that person only.
Last but not least, do not be afraid to ask someone if they paid their money for the beer that they are drinking.
If you’ve used flagging to mark trail, it is courteous to other users of the trail system to remove them some time in the next few days.