Setting a good hash run is both an art and a science. And unless you’ve done it a few times, it may seem intimidating. Here we give you 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 twice as long to set it (by walking) than to run it. If it took you more than two hours to set, and unless you fell in the creek and lost all your flour and had to go back and get some more, you probably set too long a trail. There is no magic number of km that your trail should be. It can be longer if it’s mostly on sidewalks and roads, and it can be shorter if there is a lot of shiggy.
- 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. Work in some hills, a view, shiggy, etc. Water crossings are always kind of neat.
- Try to pick a start/end location where we can have a little privacy while we’re drinking beers and singing raunchy songs. School parking lots can be good, although it can be a little awkward if there are children in a nearby playground.
- 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.
- You can get your flour and flour can(s) from hashers responsible for Hash Flour (see http://www.eh3.org/mismanagement/).
- Try to 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 cared to go. The FRBs are slowed down by a devious trail, not by devious markings.
- Try not to make your trail get too close to itself. Either mark potential overlaps with a checkback or false trail, or, if you’re running with the pack, guard it during the run.
- Use a lot of checks, checkbacks, and false trails to keep the pack together. They take more time to set of course. If you’re setting a trail with one or more co-hares, try to wait for your co-hare to come back from setting the checkback or false trail before continuing. It can be frustrating to have to search for your lost co-hare.
- 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 of the weather, particularly if you are setting the run the day before. Rain or snow can completely obliterate your marks. Marks can even be erased only an hour or so before the run by a particularly intense rain storm or heavy snow. If you absolutely must set the run the day before, you may want to have a co-hare who can reset it if necessary.
- 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 a little bit 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 peter out towards the end. You get a little tired after marking the trail after a couple of hours, and set a less interesting trail, or set fewer false trails. Try to avoid this. And be careful during the route-choosing phase. 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. It’s sometimes said that a well-set run can be run backwards.
- The goal at any check is to have options. Always at least two good ones and sometimes three or four, although this isn’t always possible in the deep woods. Choose a 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.
- It can help to have a co-hare follow about 10 metres behind to verify that the trail is as obvious as you think. This works really well in brush.
- Try not to get too distracted from your trail-setting with gossip about other hashers with your co-hare.
- 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.
- Be aware and sensitive of the running conditions. Don’t attempt overly steep terrain when it’s wet or icy. When it’s really cold or if the shiggy is particularly challenging, it’s good to have a bail-out option part way through where hashers who find that they’re in over their heads can head back to their cars.
- 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.
- Technically a hash-hold isn’t required, but it’s almost always expected. The hash-hold has a number of purposes, but mainly it’s there to let the pack regroup after what, hopefully, was an awesome run. Try to locate your hash-hold a short stroll away from the run start/end. Try to pick a location where we can enjoy a beverage without unnecessarily alarming nearby residents. Having police drop in on a down-down circle can dampen the mood.
- Beer is always a welcome choice as a hash-hold beverage, but sangria and creative cocktails are always welcome. If you’re serving beer, it helps that it’s cold in summer and not frozen in winter. Keep in mind that the hash-hold is your expense and not typically reimbursed by the EH3; it’s your opportunity to give back to the group. Other hashers, who may not be able to set as many as you, may offer to defray the cost.
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.
If you’ve set a good run, a hare or co-hare doesn’t to run with the front of the pack. It’s more important to have a sweep to take care of the back-of-the-packers or hashers who have gotten injured and need help or direction to get back to the start (it has happened).
Hang back at the checks to let the FRBs find the trail. When they find true trail, mark the check in the direction of the trail by dragging your foot through the check so that lost, slow, or late-arriving hasher has a chance to catch up.
After the Run
Choose a great on-on with lots of cheap beer and all the points above won’t matter a whole lot. If a hasher complains to you about your run, remember the two magic words.
If we haven’t been to the on-on location, visit it before the run to make sure it is large enough to accommodate the pack. This is especially important in the summer when the pack can number over 100. Call the owner or manager of the bar, preferably a couple of weeks before, so that they can be prepared for our arrival. Call again them the day before the run to make sure we are still going to be there. Ask if there will be food specials.
Try to 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. Try to park where you can leave without having to drive through the down-down circle. Another option, if you put off leaving early, is to make a quick call on your cell phone to get them to start pouring beer. Not while driving of course—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.
Sometimes the hash will splurge on food at the on-on in a way to return run fees to the pack. The food won’t be your responsibility but if it is going to happen, the hash “spend thrift” will talk to you about it.
When ordering beer, a handy rule of thumb is to order a two-to-one ratio of dark to light beer, at least for the first few jugs. Yes, in a pinch, drinkers of dark beer will drink the light stuff if they have to, but they will do so reluctantly and there will be jugs of neglected light beer languishing while hashers will be asking you if there are going to be more jugs of dark beer. Try to monitor which jugs are being drunk, and how much money you’ve spent.
Do not be afraid to ask someone if they paid their money for the beer that they are drinking. This usually isn’t a problem if the hasher collecting money is stationed near the entrance.
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.