A guide for hares

(Author's Note: The following was written specifically for hashing conditions in the UK but others may find it useful too.)
  1. Choose a pub - preferably one with decent beer and a large car park. Then check with the landlord that he is willing to have all his beer drunk for him on the date you have in mind. Strangely some landlords do object, presumably preferring to serve fragrant cocktails with umbrellas to Barbour-jacketed yuppies rather than real ale to sweaty hashers. Others are more intent on gaining entry into the Good Food Guide than serving beer. Leave them to it. There are plenty of pubs where we really are welcome.

  2. Obtain a 1:25 000 map of the area. Ordnance Survey Pathfinder Series are best as these show most field hedgerows as well as the footpaths, bridleways and definitive Public Rights of Way. The next series, 1:50 000 Landranger will do at a push but is not adequate to define the exact course of footpaths. If you are really keen you can go to the County Library and obtain a photocopy of their 1:10 000 map of the area - a bargain at 10p. Then roughly plan a route approximately 25 - 30 cm long on the 1 : 25 000 map (approx 4 - 5 miles). (Tease a length of cotton around the route if you haven't a map measure. ) There are more high tech methods of course - there is a very good route planner using Google maps available here, for example.

  3. Unless you know the land well, walk your proposed trail first, noting suitable points for checks and making best use of features which may not be apparent from the map alone. Seek out the muddy bits, known as SHIGGY - Hashers love it. Use the geography to confuse the pack's sense of direction and always ensure the pack can't see the pub from any point on the trail otherwise they'll just head straight for it and the greater part of your hard work will be lost. Try to avoid a long straight run in - it encourages the FRBs to show off. Then mark the route on the map.

  4. Next approach the landowners to clear the land. This is not as difficult as it might seem at first sight. Select a farm on the route and pay it a visit. Tell him ( or her) what your intended route is. The farmer will advise you if there are any problems on his land with animals or crops, etc. He will also be able to tell you who owns the other land on your route and who you should approach. If they are out when you call try the Yellow Pages under Farmers and try to clear the route by 'phone. Remember no landowner can object if you intend using Public Rights of Way across his land but it is only courteous to inform him that 30 - 40 runners may be descending on his fields containing animals or crops. Most farmers are very helpful but a few like to be cajoled into the right frame of mind. Most will say you can go where you like but will warn you about not damaging gates, fences or hedges. Be prepared to reveal your 'phone No in case of subsequent problems. Good relations with farmers should be preserved; afterall we will probably wish to make use of their land again in the future.

  5. Next obtain the chalk from the Hare of the previous week. If he or she has used it all, tough: you will have to procure your own. The best "chalk" is in fact "Whiting" used to mark out football pitches and the like. It's slightly more expensive than flour (which farm animals will eat sometimes) and much more visible in wet conditions. If you are really hard up, try sobbing on HASH CASH's shoulder. It won't do any good but you might feel better for it. Alternatively obtain some sawdust from any builders' merchant or saw mill generally FOC. DO NOT be tempted to use lime - an Oxford undergraduette Hare was once severely burned by this necessitating hospital treatment. One Tesco carrier bagful is generally sufficient for a complete trail if you are using Whiting but two bags if using sawdust. For fairly obvious reasons it is a good idea to use sawdust in snow or frosty conditions. A reserve bag should also be filled and cached at a suitable point about halfway round the trail before you start out.

  6. Now lay the trail preferably on the day before the run and also try to bully someone into giving you some help. Plan on taking 2 - 2½ hours over it, more if you are going to use lots of falsies and you have no help. Regard the hounds as fools who wear bifocals. Lay chalk every 20 metres or so on easy clear ground but reduce this interval to 10 metres or less on rough or overgrown terrain. Lay copious chalk when making a turn on open land. Ask yourself whether you could follow it if you were as blind as Mr McGoo.

  7. Checks should occur every 300 - 500 metres or so but at varied intervals and, if possible, at natural check points. The trail should start up again within about 30 - 50 metres and anywhere in a 360° circle, i e "BACK CHECKS" are allowed.

  8. When making a FALSE TRAIL the same rule as in para 6 applies but a falsie should be no longer than about 80 - 100 metres before ending in a distinct cross. (Some hashes use a "T".) Any number of false trails can emanate from each check.

  9. If your trail changes direction in open country, use an arrow. Use of cowpats to increase colour contrast is recommended as are fence posts or trees in long grass.

  10. Include a few loops in your trail to help to keep the pack together. Failing this a REGROUP sign at a check will ensure that everyone will wait until the back markers have caught up before recommencing. Another useful device is a LADIES' CHECK, a circle with a cross attached, which rather ungallantly assumes the front runners will usually be male.

  11. Don't be tempted to make your trail TOO long. A long run makes for a spaced out pack and you won't be thanked for making everyone completely knackered. If you are still laying it after 2½ hours consider cutting it short.

  12. On the Big Day itself brief the pack on any unusual hazards and whether dogs should be kept on a lead. Remember to mark an arrow on the ground so that latecomers will know which direction you have taken and not go out on the `in' trail. Make sure all gates are closed after the pack has run through. Be prepared after the run to organise a search party for any lost harriettes. Male members can generally be relied upon to look after themselves but we once lost an airline pilot who thought he could navigate by the stars. We haven't seen him since. Find out who has been bullied into doing the WRITE UP for your trail. Bribes, threats of writs or even actual physical violence have been known to succeed in having a trail described in the most flattering terms in the Hash Trash.

  13. Finally hand over any surplus chalk to next week's hare and, if appropriate, thank the Landlord for his hospitality - you never know, you might get a free pint out of him. A good trail might qualify you for a hash award. Win this a few times and you might even aspire to be being ON SEC, JOINT MASTER or even a GRAND MASTER one day.......