There are thousands of hash clubs worldwide and the aim is to combine modest exercise with socialising and partying. The Riviera Hash meets every other Sunday year-round and most runs are within an hour of Antibes.
There are both runners’ and walkers’ courses with a total distance of around 10-12km. The courses are challenging because a ‘hare’ sets the trail, most often with flour, and will set false leads.
“We take it in turns to hare the trail”, says Peter Owen, known by his hash name, Perpetual Motion, and a member for 25 years.
“Though it is a good form of exercise it is not necessarily for potential Olympians. It is above all a social thing and we tend to party quite a bit.”
Two-thirds of the way round the trail there is a beer stop, “though we do offer soft drinks as well”.
“At the end we gather for a ceremony where ‘crimes’ such as competitive running or failing to refer to a hasher by their hash name, are punished by taking a drink.
“We have a meal in a local restaurant or perhaps a picnic or BBQ at the home of a hasher, with about 25 meeting up at one time.”
The Hash House Harriers began in Malaysia in 1938, when British expats started a hare and hounds group. It spread after the Second World War to Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Mr Owen said he knows of three other clubs in France, two in Paris and one in Gers.
They always welcome new members: “Our activity is a little unusual as you don’t need experience or a qualification to join. We are a group of people from all sorts of backgrounds. And it is modestly priced”.