Guide to Hares

Guide to Hares for West London Hash House Harriers

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 seeks to highlight some of practical aspects of laying trails for WLH3, who meet on a week night and run in an urban or semi-urban environment. 

  • Location – WLH3 will run anywhere in the Western half of the Greater London area, from about Waterloo, in the East, to the outer Western suburbs. Like most rules on the Hash there is a degree of flexibility about this and if you are not sure if your intended run location is within our territory then discuss it with the Hare Raiser.
  • The 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, incidentally it is usually best to lay the P-trail first to guide people to the pub, before  laying the main trail, in case it takes you longer than you expect to lay and the pack has started to arrive before you get back 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, we will not normally use a pub that cannot store our bags but if that is the case make sure the Hare Raiser and web master are aware so they can warn everyone not to bring stuff they cannot run with and/ or try to find a bag minder or car owner willing to look after them. 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. Hashers tend to have a penchant for “real ale”, so ensure the pub will have a reasonable selection available. 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 might be best to use anther pub. It is best to talk face to face rather than 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. Confirm your run location and pub with the Hare Raiser by the date of the preceding week’s run by the latest, and earlier if possible, so that it can be published on our web site in good time.
  • Run Length– WLH3 trails should be between four miles and five miles (6 to 8 Km)  long 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, but do not make the trail excessively long. Numerous whenwees have bored us with tales of when they Hashed in far flung corners of the tropics, and would run thirty miles trails through snake infested jungle every weekend. We don’t. West London Hash runs on a week night, and most runners will have come from work, and will have work the next day and Hashers like to have time to drink and socialize after the run, and pointlessly long trails will not go down well with the West London Pack.  The Hash comprises a wide range of ages and running abilities so try to provide shortcuts for walkers, particularly I the run length is near the upper, five mile limit. There are numerous map apps available to judge the length of a planned trail, or you can use a GPS, or the good old fashioned method of tracing it with a piece of string on a map. The grid on the A-Z is made up of ½ Km squares so you can use this get a scale if you plan your trail by blowing up an A to Z map on a photo copier.
  • The Trail-Hashes were once known as Paper chases, or Hare and Hounds runs, and, as those names suggest, it is a simulated hunt and a good Hash trail should not simply be a wide circuit around a marked route, try to keep your trail 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. 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. WLH3 likes its trails off-road as far as possible, where that is not an option, alleyways, cut-through, tow paths and architecture can be used to add interest and variety to a trail. Checks and loops, with shortcuts for walkers, 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 and this adds to the sense of excitement of a pack in pursuit of an imaginary prey. 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. Always close off false trails with a cross, double bar or “F.T.”, we don’t do the “three blobs on you on ”rule, that does not work in an urban environment. 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. Be conscious of the runners’ safety, e.g. don’t mark the trail away from checks in such a way that the pack will have to check, or be called, across busy roads, and avoid leading them into other hazards, particularly if the trial is to be run in darkness. Consider making a check a re-group before taking the pack onto off-road territory in darkness.The Hare normally lays the trail in advance for WLH3 then joins the pack for the start of the run, and goes round with them to mark the checks through once they have been broken, and add the odd shortcut for walkers. 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 brief an accomplice  to start the run and go round with the runners, to mark the checks. 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 or Hare Raiser. 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 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