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Setting a hash

A Guide for Hares

Choose a pub - preferably one with decent beer and a large car park. Then check with the publican that they are willing to have all their beer drunk on the date you have in mind. Strangely some 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.

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).

There are also a few good website such as which will let you measure your route online.

We try to set a long (about 5 miles) and a short (3-4 miles run).

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.

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 her (or him) what your intended route is. The farmer will advise you if there are any problems on his land with animals or crops, etc. She 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 Yellowpages 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 up to 30 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; after all we will probably wish to make use of their land again in the future.

Next obtain some flour or what ever else takes your fancy to mark the trail - please make sure that it is easily bio-degradeable!! DO NOT be tempted to use lime - an Oxford undergraduate 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 flour/chalk but two bags if using sawdust. For fairly obvious reasons it is not good idea to use flour or chalk 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.

Now lay the trail, preferably no earlier than the day's before the run, (the day of the run is best) 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.

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. as are on-backs and anything else your creative mind can come up with..

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 mark. (Some hashes use a "T".) Any number of false trails can emanate from each check.

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

A REGROUP is another good way to keep the hash together. A big circle with an R in will ensure that everyone will wait until the back markers have caught up before recommencing.

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!

Don't set your Hash by car - it rapidly becomes obvious when you don't know all the trails because you're too lazy to get out. We have ways of knowing!

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.

Finally , if appropriate, thank the publican for their hospitality - you never know, you might get a free pint out of them. A good trail might qualify you for the annual BEST RUN award or a monthly Tosca.