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Beer Run

Read what we found on the Hash board.

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The Kansas City Hash House Harriers, who have dedicated themselves to an activity called "hashing," claim to have been around since the 1980s, though the practice itself dates back to a bunch of bored, boozy Brits living in what's now Malaysia, circa 1938. Albert Stephen Ignatius Gispert and his fellow expatriates invented a game in which a person designated as the "hare" runs a path, tossing out markers that his or her fellow players chase after. Equal parts nature outing and drinking game, the reward has historically been a tub of frosty beer at the end of each course.

"A drinking group with a running problem" is how hasher groups all over the country describe themselves, but the KC chapter's Web site promises that varying degrees of interest in either activity are acceptable. There are members who do it just for the exercise and camaraderie and eschew the beer, they say, and there are drinkers who are lucky to break a brisk walk, lest they spill anything.

On its Yahoo forum, the group alludes to having gone through skinny times, when only six or seven members would show up to chart the course. Now, however, the monthly runs generally attract about 30 hashers, and the Yahoo group boasts more than 100. Participants claim fake nicknames for themselves (such as "Buttsy Ross," "PMS," "Chihuahua" and "Thar She Blows"). But it appears to us that KC hashing might not be ready for the big time.

When the Pitch recently contacted the KC Hash House Harriers with an offer to raise public awareness about their events, it sent our hometown team into the throes of an ontological crisis. A feisty online debate ensued.

"The hash has always had the mystique of being underground and we should continue to maintain that," Buttsy wrote.

"We might pick up some cool new people, but there's always a risk of picking up losers, since they won't be there by personal invitation," Thar She Blows worried. "If we do let the Pitch run it, we probably want to stress the running part, so we don't get a bunch of frat-boy types just looking for a party."

A hasher named Boy's Toy disagreed. "What if they are losers and frat boys? I am both of those things! I will not stand by quietly and allow you to belittle and persecute my people! Seriously, though, I see no downside to new members. If they aren't the hasher type, they will leave soon enough on their own from the hazing, inattention, berating, etc. Contrary to what the Kansas Board of Education thinks, Darwin had some valid points and natural selection will occur."

Others wondered whether sleazy, Pitch-reading first-timers would fully understand the traditions of such a fine art. A sage hasher named Gerbil Smuggler smacked around that query.

"What's this crap about 'fully appreciating what hashing is'? It ain't all that deep ... this sounds more like the exclusive frat-guy mentality than the fun-loving, no-rules-only-traditions hashers."

Will the existing members welcome fresh blood, or will newbies be stomped like so much beer froth around the base of a freshly tapped keg? Well, we just went to the Web site, like anyone interested in the activity might, and found that a July 3 hash and barbecue were planned.

Check it out yourself.

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