ASHBOURNE has its fair share of quirky traditions and unusual clubs - this week our photographer, Geoff Merryweather joined the Hash House Harriers, an international group of runners who claim to have no rules, and share a common goal of getting their exercise with a novel way of quenching their resulting thirst. He explains.
It’s 10.30am on one of the sunniest days so far in 2014, and we are sat waiting in a pub car park in Parwich, outside the Sycamore Inn.
Considering this is the first weekend I have had off in some time, I’m questioning how I ended up here, surrounded by a bunch of people who call themselves Hashers.
Strangely enough, this group, despite their rather quirky nicknames, have nothing at all to do with any consumption of dodgy plant life.
Hashers, or Hash House Harriers to give them their full name, like to refer to their group as ‘drinkers with a running problem’ and they meet once a month at a pub of their choosing for a run through the hills, followed by drinks in the pub.
It is not any old run however, Hashers follow a trail laid out by someone chosen to be the ‘Hare’ who lays a trail using markings made out in flour, which vary from simple blobs to show direction, to fish hooks at the top of hills designating a number of runners who must return to the bottom before climbing again.
So after a short briefing, and introduction to the RA or religious advisor, who watches the runners and decides on punishments to be dealt out in ‘the circle’ after the run, both myself and my long suffering running buddy Florim set off with the others to try and find the start of the trail.
We soon find our first marking and are well on the way up into the hills around Parwich, the pace is nice and steady, with a fair amount of stop start running as we all go in different directions searching for the next marker, with a quick shout of ‘on-on’ from the runner who finds the trail.
As the miles start to rack up, we realise that we have at some point been running alongside most of the Hashers, and they’re the most pleasant people from all walks of life, and all levels of fitness, so we are never in any danger of being left behind, lost in the hills.
After a steep climb up and over the Tissington Trail, we arrive in the village itself, before quickly heading up and out again, this time back towards Parwich, it is at this point, I bump into today’s hare, who quickly confesses that he may have misread the scale on his map, turning our simple five kilometre run into more like 13 kilometres.
But there is little time to argue as we are faced with the final climb of the day, and it’s a killer, so steep that I have to slow to an almost stop, digging deep through the lactic acid to keep my legs moving, I turn to Florim and he’s much the same, this climb is beating us.
We somehow make it to the top, and it’s simply a matter of a muddy descent to the finish, where we are met by Hash organiser and Ashbourne News Telegraph colleague Carolyn, who was noticeable by her absence on the run, but has come along to see our introduction to the circle.
The circle begins once everyone is back at the pub, based around a series of ‘Down-Downs’ it is run by the RA, a pleasant man who goes by the hashing name of Durex, he quickly dishes out down-downs, to a number of us, including Me and Florim for being new, and to another chap for having new running shoes – which he then had to drink his down-down out of.
We both had no idea what to expect from Hashing and were so surprised at the fantastic atmosphere amongst the Hashers; we left happy and vowing to be back for their next Hash, which happens to be their 50th, on-on.
Further information on the group is available at www.ashbourneh3.co.uk
The next run is at 11am on Saturday, April 5, from the Rose and Crown in Brailsford and newcomers are very welcome.