13 August 2007

Cropredy Hash House Harriers

Cropredy also gave me my first experience of Hashing, leaving aside the
times when I have encountered Hashers in races, stopping for
refreshments at their own well-stocked bar. "You weren't hoping for a
serious run, were you?" one of the other participants, a gentleman of
more advanced years than me who sported a Bungay Black Dog Half Marathon
tee shirt (and mourned the loss of the Abingdon Marathon from the
calendar when I explained to him why it did not feature this year).
"Every run is serious" I replied, which I thought fairly clever in the
circumstances, and he had to agree. I don't know whether a true Hasher
- member of a drinking club with a running problem, a familiar
definition that was quoted to the Hashing novices at the pre-hash
briefing, if that's not too grand a word for it - would see it that
way. Some runs are undoubtedly more serious than others.

It was a great way to see the countryside, which I haven't done in three
earlier visits to the festival. We ran along the canal towpath, we
crossed the main railway line to Birmingham (a wonderful juxtaposition
of signs simultaneously warning us of a penalty of £1000 for trespassing
on the railway, and to look and listen for trains before crossing) and
we discovered some lovely secluded parts of the village. "How far is
it?" asked a festival-goer from the garden of one of the village pubs.
"No idea", we replied, and to know the distance would be to fail to
enter into the spirit.
We stopped three times to regroup where the instructions, marked in
flour or chalk on the ground, told us to. In between we progressed from
one handful of flour to the next, give or take a couple of false trails
(eventually marked by a line across the route) and the suspected
consumption of some of the marks by local sheep, calling "On, on!"
whenever a mark showed we were on the right track.

Apart from attacking a climb where about half the participants chose to
walk, I didn't get much of a work out, but that was not the point of the
exercise. It was just fun, and when we finished (at the bar, of course)
we were taken round the back to where the Wadsworths trucks, laden with
6X (but not with the special Glorious 40 that had been brewed for the
occasion: that was all gone by sometime on Friday) were formed up, and
there, by way of sponsorship from the brewery, free beer awaited us. My
requirement for free beer at noon on a hot day, after a run, however
gentle, of five or six miles and an hour's duration, is less than half a
pint, which is what I had, but the Hare (the layer of the trail, the
runner with the bag of flour and the large piece of chalk) was obliged
presumably by some time-honoured hashing custom to down a pint without
pause or as a forfeit (which he incurred) to pour it over his head, at
which he proved surprisingly inaccurate. As my itinerary had me driving
40 miles home and back again to catch the late afternoon acts at the
festival, any more beer was an undesirable ingredient, so that is how,
finding myself present at the proverbial piss-up in a brewery (almost) I
made my excuses and left.

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