Guide to Hares

If you would like to volunteer to lay a Trail Click Here

One of the most fun and satisfying aspects of Hashing is laying trails, and WLH3 cannot exist unless volunteers come forward. Do not be put off because you have not done it before. Laying trails, or “Haring”, is an art, and the only way to master it is by doing it, and going round with the pack to see what works and what does not. The pack can be very forgiving to a virgin hare. If you would like someone to help you lay a trail, ask the Hare Raiser, who will try to arrange something.

Territory – WLH3 will run anywhere in the Western half of the Greater London area, from about Waterloo in the East to the outer Western suburbs. We have been known to go out as far as Staines, Epsom and Northolt, but are more comfortable a bit closer in. If you are not sure, discuss it with the Hare Raiser, who, after a few beers, will usually agree to anything!

Pub - WLH3 always meets at a pub, where the run will normally start and finish.The pub should be within reasonable walking distance from a Tube or National Rail station, and the Hare is responsible for laying a P-trail from the station to the pub. If a good pub is particularly well-located in relation to good running territory, then the definition of reasonable walking distance can be stretched. The Hare must always speak to the pub management in advance to tell them we are coming, make sure they are in agreement and arrange for the storage of runners’ bags for the duration of the run. If it is a pub we have not used recently, explain what is involved i.e. thirty odd people turning up in running gear, who will be going for a run for an hour, coming back all at once and drinking a lot of real ale. It is also best to touch on the subject of the circle (“down downs”), without alarming them unduly. Try to speak to the manager or landlord and not just a duty manager, who may not be there on the night, otherwise make sure they enter it in the pub diary. Check if our visit will clash with other events, e.g. a pub quiz, and if so consider if it is a good idea. It is best to talk face to face rather that on the phone, especially if the pub does not know us. Some pubs will provide us with a few free beers for the circle and/or free chips or sandwiches. As we bring the pub a lot of customers, it is not unreasonable for us to ask them for this. Some managed houses have no discretion over free beers, and even some tenanted pubs will not provide them. Although this may be a factor in deciding on a pub, it is not an overriding one. The primary objective of the Hare should be to give everyone a good run and an enjoyable evening, not to get free beers out of the pub. However, if a pub landlord or manager seems a bit lukewarm about the whole thing, it might be best just to walk away. If they do not want our custom, there are plenty of pubs that do.

The Trail – Part of the fun of Hashing comes from the variety of styles of trail in different locations laid by different Hares. This guide is not intended to impose a uniform style on everyone, but does indicate some practical aspects of WLH3: for example, the fact that we meet on a week night and run in an urban or semi-urban environment.

WLH3 trails should be around four miles in length and take the pack about an hour to run. In poor weather nobody is likely to complain too much if it falls a bit short of four miles and you could stretch it to five if it is really necessary to provide an interesting trail, but five miles should be considered the absolute maximum. Numerous whenwees have told us about when they Hashed in Outer Bongo Bongo Land, or wherever, and would run thirty miles trails through snake infested jungle every weekend, we don’t, we run on a week night, after work and with work the next day. Pointlessly long boring trails do not go down well with the West London Pack.

Hashes were once known as Paper chases or Hare and Hounds runs and, as those name suggest, it is a simulated hunt and a good Hash trail is not simply a run around a marked route. When planning a run avoid big wide circuits which will make it boring and predictable, try to keep it tight and weaving so that each time they reach a check the pack will be kept guessing as to which direction the trail might go.

WLH3 likes its trails off-road as far as possible and in other areas, alleyways, cut-throughs, tow paths and architecture can be used to add interest and variety to a trail. Checks, loops and false trails can be used to keep the pack together, if a trail is laid well the faster runners lose the advantage of their speed through the unpredictability of the trail and this adds to the sense of a pack in pursuit of an imaginary prey. Try to put checks where there are several options, and where the direction in which you intend to take the trail is not obvious. In placing the first marking away from a check, consider whether the front runner, who breaks it, will be within line of sight, or hearing range, of those waiting at the check, allowing for background noise from roads etc. False trails can be an effective way of bringing a pack together once into a run, but long false trails early on, before the pack has spread out, will often have the opposite effect, and should be avoided. When taking a trail off-road in darkness it can be a good idea to have a strategically placed re-group to get everyone together. Do not feel constrained to stick to a straightforward left or right hand circuit. With a bit of cunning and live-haring, it can be possible to reverse the out-trail to return the pack to the pub, or to set a figure-of-eight trail, which crosses itself, to make the best use of territory and keep the pack guessing.

With WLH3, the Hare normally lays the trail in advance, joins the pack for the start of the run, and goes round with them to mark the checks through once they have been broken. It is a good idea to put in the odd shortcut for walkers, and usually best to lay the P-trail first to guide people to the pub, in case it takes you longer than you expect to lay the main trail.

At the start of the run be sure to mark the direction of the trail from immediately outside the pub. West London Hashers often come straight from work, and there are invariably late-comers. For the same reason, if you think you will not be back at the pub for the start of the run, or, for some other reason, will not go round with the pack, make sure you arrange for someone to start the run and to mark the checks through.

Incidentally, do not be tempted to lay, or part lay, the trail the day before. This almost invariably leads to disaster. The same applies to laying trails on a bicycle.

Drink stops - These are the sure way to guarantee the approval of the pack! WLH3 will normally reimburse the cost of laying on a drinks stop, so long as the budget has been agreed in advance with the GM. If you arrange a drink stop, it should be near the end of the run.

Trail Laying Materials – The most common materials used to lay trails are plasterboard on pavement, and flour off-road. Plasterboard is more resilient than chalk, but even plasterboard cannot be relied upon to stay visible if it rains, and it will be necessary to use at least some flour, even on pavement if there is any chance of rain. City Hash has agreed with the City of London Police that they will not use flour in the City. This ban does not apply to the rest of London, but it is probably best to exercise discretion using flour in prominent Central London street, put small neat blobs by lampposts etc. which only hashers will notice. We usually use flour for off-road trails and at night you will need a lot of it, roughly one two-kilogramme bag for each mile of trail but if it is laid around dusk, it is usually inconspicuous by the the following morning, as slugs and other fauna consume it overnight, so it does not mar the environment. Wood shavings and sawdust can also be used for off-road daylight runs.

If you would like to volunteer to lay a Trail Click Here