Vienna Circle: Hash House Harriers

An adult paper chase in this month's Vienna Circle

Hardcore hasher

Hardcore hasher “Joystick” enjoying a sip of a podiatric pint | Photo: Alexander Schifter

“Hashing” gets its name from the Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur, from where the first “hash” started in 1938. Because of its lacklustre food the club was also known as “Hash House” among the British community. The original Hash House Harriers, a group of expatriates, met for runs on Monday evenings, mimicking Hare and Hounds chases; and afterwards, stop for pints – a good, healthy bit of exercise to get rid of the weekend’s excesses, without stopping drinking.

With clubs all across the globe, “hashing” has become increasingly popular. Rules vary between groups, but the principle is the same. Chalk signs mark the trail, indicating changes of direction, wrong turns, checks, where the group stops for a couple of drinks, or “Hash Views”, which draw the runners’ attention to notable or particularly ridiculous sights.

Vienna’s Hash House Harriers, who proudly call themselves “the world’s worst hash”, meet on Sunday afternoons. The group is mixed, ages ranging from the very young (children are welcome) to over 70, including not only expatriates, but also native Viennese among the regulars. With the emphasis on the social rather than the sporting side of the game, there is no need to be a good runner. Everyone moves at his own pace.

As tradition has it, the runners gather in a circle at the end, down their beers and join in drinking songs to honour “hash virgins” (first time runners) or “hashers”, who have done something extraordinarily silly or stupid. After a certain number of “hashes”, dedicated runners receive a “hash name”, a pseudonym – for more information about the Vindobona Hash House Harriers contact Lord Glo-Balls. Yes, Glo-Balls.

So if you want to get to know Vienna in a different way, “hashing” could be just the ticket. The trails lead the “hashers” both through the city and beyond the city walls. The club also organises trips to other parts of Austria or even to “hashes” abroad.


Vindobona Hash House Harriers
Hashes on Sundays at 14:30
Adults €4, 12-18 years €2, children under 12, dogs and sticks go free

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