By Sarah Coursey, Editor
RIO DE JANEIRO – Twice a month across Rio you can find an attractive and possibly sweaty crew of athletes at the pub, downing a pint or three in their sneakers and running shorts. Stay long enough and you’ll hear songs such as ‘Hashstones’, sung to the tune of the famous American cartoon ‘The Flintstones’. The telling line “From the hash of Rio, They’re the leaders in debauchery” gives the group away. The Hash House Harriers (HHH) are none other than a drinking club with a running problem.
Rio’s HHH chapter consider not taking themselves too seriously a sobering task – that is, until the run is over and the real fun begins. Think pub crawl minus the crawling and you’ll get a better sense for the group. Of course, in Rio where the focus is on socializing and not drinking per se, there is a healthy, light-hearted comaraderie among the mix of Gringo and Carioca group members.
True to gringo roots, the Hash House Harriers (HHH) was founded by English ex-pats in Kuala Lumpur in the late Thirties. It was the eve of the British Empire, and good old-fashioned drinking was still very much a cultural import brought to every country the Brits colonized. The problem with alcohol is that it requires filtering and detoxifying in the body to ensure a clean vessel for the next dousing of spirits. Enter HHH, a group that originated in the post-hangover remedy of running to get the blood pumping efficiently and expediently, ie to get drinking again in less time.
Rio’s group is organized with a Hare, Harrietts, Harrier and Virgins for each run. For the uninitiated, the hare is the person who sets the running trail. The course will often include Beer Stops along the way to keep runners motivated and laughing. Harriets are female runners, harriers male, while virgins are newcomers who don’t really know what they’re up against until they actually do the run.
All in the search of good, clean weekend enjoyment, the bi-monthly HHH group of Rio usually attracts a group of around ten people from its total membership of forty. An even split of men and women, foreigner and local, it doesn’t differentiate any further than folks who want to run, socialize and do a bit of drinking. For those looking to join on trips further afield, HHH takes their members on a bi-annual basis to places such as Visconde de Maua, Arrial de Cabo, Buzios and Ilha Grande.
Pete Simpson, a loyal HHHer in Rio, quipped,”There is too much of a mix to have an average Hasher.” For those intimidated by the group’s odd mix of activities, he said,”The group is quite calm compared to Hashes in other cities which can be quite extreme.”
With nicknames for members such as Bitter Sweet, Dead Gump and Wrinkley, one things is certain – HHH may have a running problem, but they’ve got a liquid solution waiting behind the next bar. It’s really a question of working up a good thirst, and there are few things better than a good run with like-minded people to get the body on track for a pint and a laugh.
For information on the next HHH Rio event, visit their website at http://riohhh.multiply.com/.