Hash House Harriers

When I was living and working in Abuja, Nigeria, I was introduced to a fun running/walking group called the Hash House Harriers. This crazy, fun group was made up of people from all over the world. Expats and Nigerians alike. While mighty hot, we did our darndest to follow the trail and make it to the top.

Hash, A History

In 1938, in what is now called Malaysia, a group of British officers started meeting on Monday afternoons to go for a run. The idea was to cleanse their bodies of the ‘excessives’ of the previous weekend. Eating in their mess hall at the time, they decided to nickname their group the Hash House Harriers.

It wasn’t until after World War II that the group was formally established with a constitution. The objectives were recorded in 1950:

  • Promote physical fitness among our members
  • Get rid of weekend hangovers
  • Acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
  • Persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel

Hash Today


As the group evolved, so did the rules. First, a “chalk talk” circle would be formed. This lets anyone new understand what to look for as well as what the various call outs meant.

But the hare is still the most vital component. Before the group comes together for a run (usually monthly), a hare goes out and marks the new trail with shredded paper, chalk or sawdust. The hare will often set false trails that challenge the runners (and walkers) to stay alert and be vigilant. The runners out front will yell “on on” when they find a trail marking indicating that everyone is on the right path.  Or they may yell “looking” if they can’t find it. These false trails tend to be at difficult inclines or other challenges and allow for everyone to stop, get a breath and look for the trail. Once the shredd is spotted an “on on” is yelled and everyone is off running again.



In Nigeria our halfway point was always at the top of a hill with amazing vistas looking out on the vast countryside surrounding Abuja. We ran through yucca, coffee and banana plantations as well as over rocks and through thick bush. It was always a challenge and super fun. When reaching the top a truck full of water, soda and beers greeted us and everyone enjoyed a good hour of relaxing, laughing and enjoying the view.

Then “on on” would be called and off we would head down the other side and eventually back around to our starting point.


Post Run

We would be called to “circle up.”  Long standing members would sing songs, newbies would be initiated with silly songs and a dousing of various liquids. It was always good fun.

Hashing in Nigeria was very special as it took me through areas I would not have seen on my own. The countryside is so unique, the people so warm and I really treasure my experience. I will definitely look for a HASH group the next time I am abroad.

Ever take part in a HASH? I’d love to hear your story – comment below.


Nigeria is Wonderful

One week left of my fun adventures in Nigeria.  Since my last post, life has found a lovely rhythm.  Working out, watching a friends choir perform, eating good food, HASHing etc…it has been nice.  Work remains good, even though the kids are getting so excited for the last day of school it is hard to keep them focused on learning.

Since our grades are already done and turned in (but the students do not know that!), I have been having them do projects that they think are just fun and silly, but they are actually learning too.

We started making paper mâché globes – this next week we’ll paint them:


And on Monday they will be performing their rap songs.  We are finishing up a unit on the Heroes Journey in Language Arts so they are creating a rap about a chosen hero.  They had a choice between Greek, Literary, Historical or Unsung heroes.  Here is what the groups chose:  Spiderman, Robin Hood, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and Abigail Adams.  As of their last rehearsal they were starting to sound pretty good.  It is really fun to see who has a beat and those that don’t.  I’ll try to video tape them and share with you next week.

I finally caught a photo of one of the myriad of lizards that are constantly darting across my footsteps, bobbing their heads up and down.  They are literally everywhere and some have the coolest color combos, but as they are so skittish, it is really hard to get a photo – here is my best one so far:

IMG_2216And I was thrilled to finally be up close and see this magnificent bird:

Photo by yebomama.com

This of course is not my photo, but I have been seeing flits of red flying by and wondered what it could be.  A couple days ago on a back road driving to drop off a friend’s son, we spotted one sitting right next to the road.  S/he graciously did not fly off for quite some time as we marveled at the bright little creature.  This is a Red Bishop.  There have been so many colorful birds here – gorgeous sky blue, little tiny birds  (think size of a Mouse Tit) and large, golden browns and oranges the size of a large Robin.  I definitely needed a bird book for this part of the world.

I also took my students on a field trip to the Children’s Zoo. IMG_2158

Me and my TA; Lucia.

It was a pretty sad place.  Obviously very little funding and it was a massive zoo.  We saw ostrich, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, crocodiles, gazelle, African golden eagle, tortoise, goats (originally there to feed the lions but the lions died, so now the goats are on display).IMG_2178IMG_2195And lots of monkeys.  Here is one in particular I found fascinating – look for blue.  It wasn’t an anomaly, they all had them!

IMG_2201   On that note… I’ll try to post one more time before I fly back to the USA.

Have a great week!  Gretchen