Wednesday, April 3

Hash House Harriers

Little did we know that when we read an interesting magazine article about running a hash in Grenada that we’d actually partake in one.  We love a little adventure and we were totally game to try something new, especially if it involved the Grenada bush (aka backcountry / rainforest).   We committed ourselves to joining a group called the Grenada Hash House Harriers for a “hash” run.  In Grenada they proudly call themselves the largest and most fun group of hashers.  Apparently started by 3 guys who called themselves “drinkers with a running problem”.   It’s an organized fun run (or walk), on a trail through a different part of Grenada every week.  Anyone can do it and it’s not a race, unless your Craig, then it’s a race. 

It was Saturday morning as the sun disappeared behind the rain clouds, my thoughts were filled with visions of wet, mud slicked trails we’d be running later that day.  When it was time, we donned our running shorts, laced up our running shoes and put a hat on our head to keep the rain from pelting our face.  The next challenge was finding a ride to the hash.  Our options were to find where a bus should pick us up (tried that unsuccessfully), take a city bus (too complicated with all the transfers) or find another hasher willing to give you a ride (how hard could that be, right?).  We opted for #3 and miraculously found a ride by standing on the side of the road, in the rain.  Craig and Erica stood on one side while Chris and I stood right in the middle of the traffic circle.  We were sure we couldn't be missed if we stood smack dab in the middle.  We were wearing running gear for crying out loud.  No one in Grenada looks like that, especially in the rain!  As it turned out, Craig and Erica were the ones to get us a ride, with the 'hash doctor' no less.  Cool…we’re in good hands.  Wrong.  He’s not actually a medical doctor, just the hash doctor.    What does that mean, exactly?   We’re still not sure.  We piled in his compact car and rode up the very narrow, winding, wet road up and over the mountain to the next town of Birchgrove.  As we got out of the car, we quickly realized we weren’t at the beach where it was warm.  It was pouring rain and cold!

We huddled near a mini mart with approximately 50 strangers to listen to the Hash Master go over the details and make sure everyone signed in and out of the hash book.  "Softwood", as the hash master was affectionately called, belts out in his British accent “that way they’ll know what to put on your tombstone”.  He explained that the trail is randomly marked with shredded paper.  If you stumble upon a circle, then there are multiple trails to choose from and only one of them is the correct one.  What?  That’s part of the fun.  If your in front (like Craig) and choose the wrong path (marked with an X), then you shout to everyone blindly following you “On Back”.  If it’s the right trail (rewarded with more paper), then you shout “On On”, which means keep going. 

We start the run promptly at 4pm and within 20 feet, there was a circle marked on the road in shredded paper, of course.  Half the group went up the hill and the other half went down the hill.  Which way should we go?  We decided to go up only to learn it was the wrong way.  Then Craig took off with the fast group never to be seen again.  Once we were all going in the same direction, the trail lead up a long, very steep road.  I was thankful it was paved because it was raining, but on the other hand, I was thinking that it didn’t live up to my expectations because I thought we'd be running in the bush.  No fear my friends….the road quickly ran out and we found ourselves running in the mud.  Let me rephrase that….running in ankle deep, thick, shoe sucking, slippery, slimy red mud.  It squished, gushed and splashed up my legs as the rain poured on my head.  The deeper into the bush we trotted, the more interesting it became.  The law of physics was inevitable, the more we went up, I knew we had to go down.  When running down a slippery muddy trail it's nearly impossible to stay on your feet.  I was either skiing down the trail (picture arms flailing) or trying to do the crab walk without getting completely covered in mud.  There were also rivers to cross through and gully's to jump over.  Notice I said ‘through’ the river and not over.  I gladly ran through the rushing water because it was a chance to rid my feet of 5 extra pounds of mud!  Every once in a while I would catch a glimpse of my surroundings and take note (or a picture) of the cows or banana trees or the beautiful volcano peaks.  

Before we knew it, before we were completely and totally exhausted, before we were muddy beyond recognition, we were at the finish line.  Craig came in a respectable third while the rest of us came in somewhere in the middle of the pack.  We were handed a beer and scarfed down some oil down as well as grilled chicken.  It all tasted soooo good.  The rain had stopped as we befriended students from St. George University, who ended up giving us a ride back to the marina on their bus.  But it doesn't end there my devoted readers.  After everyone has returned safe and sound, there is the ritual of more beer drinking.  This time it's for reasons only deemed necessary by the hash team.  If they see you commit a hash farce or you have run several hashes and they have 'gotten to know you', then you might be awarded a hash name.  It is an honor to have a hash name and they are all without a doubt derogatory or humiliating (in the best possible way of course).  For example:  "Bo-peep" (for being notorious for loosing hashers on the trail), "Wino and his wife, Why Not", "Distillery Dame", etc. etc.  And then you have to drink a beer, in front of the crowd, on your knees.  This is not a friendly, here have a beer my friend.  This is equivalent to fraternity hazing.  One must drink the beer all at once without stopping.  If one stops drinking continuously, for whatever reason including gagging, they pour the remainder of the beer over your head.  Then my friends, the hash is over and it's time to go home!  Sounds like a blast huh?!  Would we do it again?  Absolutely!

Leaving the marina clean and ready for an adventure.  The kids stayed behind on Patronus with Maggie as the babysitter.

Erica writes on the back of Craig's legs

Fueled up with a coke and shirley biscuits

The Hash Master (left with blue shirt) and an unsuspecting runner must drink a beer from their brand new shoes (thankfully before the run).  A Hash tradition.  If your shoes are new within 6 months, you must drink.  Chris came very close to drinking a beer from his shoe, but somehow he convinced the master that he bought them before they left on the trip and they 'just don't show any signs of wear'.  That's a great endorsement if I ever heard one!!

Wet and ready to go with our friend, the hash doctor

Read 'em and weep

Some cute little cheerleaders

The first paper circle we came upon was 20 feet from the start.  No fair!

Here we go.....running up the hill, only to learn it was marked with an X (fake trail)

Running along the road before we hit the mud

In the Grenada bush, wet and muddy!

Half way mark

More onlookers as we pass through small villages

Hash photographer, Brian, as he navigates the muddy trail

We have come full circle, finish line just up the road

Ahhhh, nothing beats a beer at the finish line.  As you can see, Craig, has quite a pile of empties.  He came in third and had a long wait for the rest of us!

My legs are slightly cleaner because I found a faucet to wash off some of the mud

Some good ole grenada oil down (the national dish).  

These poor soles had to drink a beer because they didn't sign in when they returned.  Party foul!  Drink up!  Craig was called up to drink a beer on his knees because the back of his legs said "will run for beer".  Then, all 4 of us were called up to drink a beer because we were rookies and had writing on the back of our legs.

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