During the Victorian Era, the British enjoyed a racing game called a Paper Chase. It’s also known as Hare and Hounds and sometimes called a Chalk Chase. It was based on the traditional fox hunt only with people as the main players. The original playing ground was a shrubbery maze but as its popularity grew any open field or forest would do. It’s played with any number of people.
At the start one or more players are designated the Hares. They get a head start and leave a trail of paper shreds or chalk marks which represented the scent of the Hare. After the pre-determined designated time, the Hounds would chase after the Hare following the trail of paper and chalk. As an animals scent would sometimes drift on the wind, so would the paper shreds and often lead the Hounds on a false trail. The object of the game would be to catch the Hare before the finish line.
In 1938, Albert Stephen “G” Gispert was posted to Kuala Lumpur where he founded a Hare and Hounds club based on the rules of his previous club, the Springgit Harriers, while stationed in Malacca. Because officers were not allowed to fraternize with unlisted men, they adopted nicknames. When they met for these runs, they only referred to each other by these nicknames and thereby stripped the identity of who they were outside of the club. With the war building and suspicions on the rise, all gatherings had to be legally registered with the Registrar of Societies. Gispert suggested they registrar under the name Hash House Harriers referring to the bland food severed at the Selangor Club where he and the other members were billeted.
The club registration card dated 1950 recites the organizations constitution as follows:
To promote physical fitness among our members
To get rid of weekend hangovers
To acquire a good thirst and satisfy it in beer
To persuade the older members they are not as old as they feel
On December 15th, 1941 the Japanese invaded east Malaya. Gispert and his unit remained in constant battle until February 15th, 1942 when they were ordered to surrender. Several officers escaped after being taken POWs. “G” must have been one of the officers who escaped as he was listed as killed in combat February 17th, 1942. The rest of his unit was forced to work on the infamous Burma Railway, a.k.a. The Bridge Over The River Kwai.
The club went into hibernation in 1941 due to the war but the surviving members reassembled in 1946. Since that time, the Hash House Harriers have grown to over 2,000 kennels worldwide including three active chapters in Antarctica.
The Denver H3 was started in 1982 by Silver Fox who escaped from Washington DC by a balloon he made with 300 condoms. Years later he was traded back to DC for an ice chest and a “Where’s the Beef” baseball hat.
Check out the entire hash kennel family tree page.