Beer and fitness may seem like strange bedfellows, but the world’s favorite alcoholic beverage is actually a central component of many running group’s activities. All over Jacksonville, runners are mixing exercise with their love for craft beer. What may be the least-known, yet most outrageous, group is known simply as hashers.
Hashers are members of a larger, decentralized organization called Hash House Harriers, or H3 for short. Each chapter of hashers, sometimes called a kennel, is individually mismanaged (part of the hasher lingo) with no uniting organizational hierarchy. There are more than 1,700 chapters spanning all seven continents.
Members describe themselves as a “drinking club with a running problem.” Hashers meet in various locations around the city to drink beer and run what can only be described as cross country through fields, streams, swamps, briar patches, streets, woods, and whatever other terrain they encounter. Before they run, they drink beer. During the run, they drink beer. After the run, they drink beer. In fact, beer plays a major role in why these intrepid souls brave the crazy running courses.
The origins of hashing harks to December 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, which was then the Federated Malay States and is now Malaysia, when a group of British colonial officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British Paper Chase or “Hare and Hounds,“ to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend.
After meeting for several months, they were informed by the Registrar of Societies that as a “group,” they would require a constitution and an official name. The name “Hash House Harriers” was suggested, citing the Selangor Club Annex where the men were quartered. The club was known as the “Hash House” for its notoriously monotonous food.
The Hash House Harriers Constitution is recorded on a club registration card dated 1950. Its objectives are:
- To promote physical fitness among our members,
- To get rid of weekend hangovers,
- To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer, and
- To persuade older members that they are not as old as they feel.
Not all running clubs that incorporate beer in their activities are as wild as Hashers. The Jax Beach group Running For Brews is a collection of more than 300 runners – not all of them attend each event – who meet for a 5K run and then hang out and socialize over craft beer. At Dahlia’s Pour House in Riverside, runners meet on Wednesday nights, run 5K and enjoy discounted beer after.
“I started a running club at Dahlia’s,” said Dahlia’s owner Andrea Dahlia, “because I do enjoy running, but often too easily find excuses to not go running. I felt if I had a group that I enjoyed meeting up with and had the sense that they are relying on me to be there, I would at least be going jogging once a week. I feel others need a similar small push and hope the club is that push they need.”
For information about these running groups, check these websites:
Jacksonville Hashers Kennel:JaxH3.com
Running For Brews:meetup.com/RunningforBrewsJaxBeach
Dahlia’s Pour House Running Club:dahliaspourhouse.com/events