Not drug-related, I promise.
Hash House Harriers
I was googling around for a running club in Buenos Aires to have another way to meet new people and give me some added motivation, when I saw a recommendation for some group called the Hash House Harriers. I started doing some research on the group, and saw their motto: "A drinking group with a running problem" - I figured I'd fit right in. I found their corresponding Facebook group and reached out, seeing if there was anything I needed to know. The response:
Do you like to run (doesn't have to be fast, and you can walk if you need to, nobody minds), can you follow a trail of flour, and can you drink beer - Oh, and you must be able to enjoy a good laugh, and great company
Say no more. I'm actually fairly proud of myself for making it...old Ryan wouldn't have made the trip for a few reasons. Each run is hosted/planned by a different Hare every time, and this time it was hosted in a bit of a suburb outside of the city. For me, that meant a 20 minute bus ride followed by a 40 minute train ride to get there. To add to it, when I woke up at 8 to start getting ready, it was raining pretty steadily. I did a quick check to confirm it wasn't cancelled (it wasn't, they rarely are, apparently), packed my bag, and headed out.
Before the run started, all of the visitors and virgins (first-timers) introduced themselves to the group, and luckily, I wasn't the only one. Typically the person planning the path will go out ahead of the group and drop flour on the ground marking the route, but rain makes that ineffective. Therefore, this was a "live hash" where the leader runs with the group. This means one thing...you better keep up.
One thing I didn't know before we took off - how long the run would be. I found at at the halfway point, after running for probably 3 miles and doing my damnedest to keep up with the fast group, that this group usually runs about 10 Km...which is excellent news for the guy who has been running 3 miles at a time recently. It was all doable as there were a few breaks to let the back group catch up, and the one beer stop halfway through. I joined the back group on the second half because I'm aware of Einstein's definition of insanity. We got a tiny bit lost but we eventually made it back to the house with ice cold beer awaiting.
After each run, they have call outs for virgins, visitors, the leaders, and anyone else who may have broken a rule (some of which seem made up on the spot), where everyone in the middle drinks while the others sing and shout. It had the feel of an English pub during a soccer match. And of course, when the run was over and we were wrapping up, the sun was shining bright.
All in all, it was a great experience, and I hope to catch at least one more run with the group before I leave. There are hash groups all over the world, so it gives one a great way to meet some friendly faces in a new place, as well as developing running friendships in your home city. I continue to be amazed at the warmth shown to me by strangers. There have been so many times in this journey when I've gone into a group knowing absolutely no one, and time and time again, I'm greeted with warm smiles and great conversation. Definitely something to keep in mind if you're ever on the other side of that scenario: be as welcoming as you can to strangers...it will mean much more to them than you realize.