Sunday, October 10, 1999

Runners prefer to dress for excess

Club adds gowns, beer stops to dash

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ralph Hageman, 26, of Western Hills runs across the Suspension Bridge.
(Josh Biggs photo)
| ZOOM |
        COVINGTON — There was a streak of red under the gray, misty skies in Covington on Saturday.

        That streak was a group of about 50 to 60 people — males and females, young and old — running across the city in red dresses.

        This group, called the Sin City Hash House Harriers (and Harriettes), get together about every other week to run.

        “We're not always in red dresses,” said Mark Davis of Cincinnati.

        “We're a drinking club with a running problem.”

        Two members of the group have a 10-minute head start and make a trail for the pack to follow out of flour and chalk.

        There are plenty of false trails to follow, beer breaksand spots for photo opportunities along the 3- to 4-mile route.

        “There's usually one stop during the run for some beer in a bar or in a parking lot and it usually ends up at a bar somewhere for food and beverage,” Mr. Davis said.

        Although many in the group are competitive runners, that word is a “no-no” during the hashes. If a runner wears a T-shirt or running pants with a logo, he or she has to chug a beer. And the rules, if there are any, change constantly.

        The commonalities of the group, though, are a sense of humor, beer and running.

        In the pouring rain the members of the group made their way over hillsides along the river and the Suspension Bridge.

        Some wore parkas over their vintage sequin dresses and others showed as much leg as possible.

        It's easier to run that way, one runner said. Many completed their ensembles with hats, beads and one man even wore red cowboy boots.

        “This is kind of college all over again,” said Barry Briggs of Dayton, Ohio.

        Kari Heerdt, 32, of Hyde Park said it's a good combination of people with fun customs.

        “It's a strange combination of liking beer, running and drinking beer while running,” she said.

        The tradition of these runs started with a British military officer based in Kuala Lumpur in 1938, Mr. Davis said.

        He rounded up a group of bored soldiers and they started to pattern their daily runs after a children's game called Hares and Hounds.

        A trail is set by the hare and hounds follow, according to the group's Web site.

        After the runs they would meet at a local restaurant known as the Hash House for a big meal and before long they took on the name Hash House Harriers. The harrier is the hound that chases the hares.

        “I do it because it's something to do,” Ralph Hageman, 26, of Western Hills, said as he tried to wring out his pony tails. “I've been doing it for seven years and I love it.

        “You sure get to meet some interesting people.”


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