Man uses flour to mark out hashing trail at Woodleigh MRT: What exactly is hashing?

Man uses flour to mark out hashing trail at Woodleigh MRT: What exactly is hashing?
PHOTO: The New Paper

A 69-year-old man was arrested for leaving behind a suspicious white substance at Woodleigh MRT station, causing it to be closed for security checks on Tuesday (April 18).

He had placed flour in the station to mark a trail for other members in his running club called Seletar Hash House Harriers, which organises hash runs in Singapore every Tuesday evening.

The incident also cast the spotlight on the outdoor activity. So, what exactly is 'hashing'?

1. It is an activity that combines cross country running and treasure hunt

Hashing was created by a group of British expatriates in Malaysia in 1938, and fashioned after an outdoor racing game called 'hares and hounds'.

In the game, a 'hare' lays a trail using toilet paper, flour, or chalk for a pack of 'hounds', who figure out the clues and aim to catch the 'hare' before it reaches the end of the trail.

A hash run is typically held over an hour or so.

2. There's an element of surprise in hashing

The temporary markings used in the trail may disappear over time, which makes the game challenging.

A 'hare' may throw the 'hounds' off its track with false trails, short cuts, and dead ends. These are designed to keep the pack of 'hounds' together regardless of their fitness levels or running speeds.

Participants also often find themselves going on runs in places ranging from the jungle to the city.

3. Runners have been hashing in Singapore for decades

There are about 10 such running clubs in the country, with Hash House Harriers Singapore, which was founded in 1962, claiming to be 'father hash' that spawned the rest.

4. Hashing has inspired several spin-offs

There's bike hashing for those who prefer to travel around the island on their mountain bicycles, while canine lovers have created 'Dash' where runners can bring their dogs along for the hash run.

5. Hashing is a social activity

These groups often describe themselves as 'drinking clubs with a running problem'. Hashers often wind down from their runs in a 'circle' where they socialize, sing drinking songs and enjoy some drinks (usually beer) and food.

minlee@sph.com.sg

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