Huandaolu Hash House Harriers Hare Guide

(Flagrantly Stolen From the Chicago Hash House Harriers Hare Guide and Frog Chopper's Guide to Setting and Running a Hash Trail)

Now that you've run a few hashes with the Huandaolu Hash House Harriers, you're probably starting to get the hang of how trails go. It’s time for you to consider haring a trail of your own. Haring is a challenging and rewarding experience that adds a new and fun dimension to hashing. So what are you waiting for? For those ready to take the next step, the Huandaolu Hash House Harriers are here to help.

Step 1: Pick A Date

The very first thing that you should do when haring is look at the Hareline - this is a list of upcoming dates when the Huandaolu Hash House Harriers will be running and who will hare on those dates. Find an open date that works best for you and contact the Hare Raiser to claim a particular date. If no dates are open, or the date that works for you already has a hare, don't worry - the Huandaolu Hash House Harriers caps the hareline a few months into the future, but if you contact the hare raiser about a date in the future you may get first dibs at that date when we start taking reservations for it. Also, sometimes dates open up later, so contact the Hare Raiser just in case. Alternately, you could try and contact the person who has signed up for a particular date and see if they need a co-hare.

It is in your best interest to find an experienced co-hare the first few times that you lay a trail - though you may find this guide helpful and you may think you've got everything organized, there are things that an experienced co-hare can teach you that you would never think of. Try out co-haring with people you've never hared with before as well - each hare has a different style and, more importantly, a different bag of tricks from which you can learn. Who knows, even those who have laid hundreds of trails may end up learning a new and interesting way of doing things from you!

Step 2: Plan The Trail

This step varies from person to person, so it is important to find the method that works best for you - just don't forget that it is your job as the hare to get every member of the pack to the beer stop. They may not make it all there at the same time, and you may lose a member of the pack every now and again, but your goal should be to get everybody to the same point at about the same time, NOT to get everybody lost and confused.

Another important thing to remember is the weather and the distance of your trail - trail length can certainly vary from hare to hare, but most trails are between 5 and 6 kilometres for the walkers with an additional 5 to 6 kilometres for the runners. If you're want to lay longer trails, be aware of the time of day that your pack is leaving (nobody likes getting back to the circle at 11pm in the Summer) and the weather (runs in extreme hot and cold are usually shorter, as are runs taking place during rain, wind, and snow storms). The Huandaolu Hash House Harriers do run every first and third weekend regardless of the weather, but that doesn't mean that we'll appreciate your trail regardless of the weather conditions.

Most trails start off as ideas, and many hares plan a trail knowing only that they want to start at a given place, run past a few specific points in town, and then wind up at a beer stop. This method is usually preferred by people who know a given area particularly well and are able to accurately judge distances.

Another useful tool in planning a trail is to scout the area - if you've never been in a particular neighborhood you should take an afternoon to walk around the area. You're likely to find some fun little quirks of the neighborhood that you can then incorporate into your trail. At the very least, this will help ensure that you don't get lost when you're pressed for time laying your trail.

Some people find it helpful to extensively map the trail - marking down on a map where every split, check, and false trail will be. This method is helpful because it helps ensure that you won't get lost while sweeping your own trail (see Step 4), but it also helps prevent shortcutting, since you'll be trying to think where the pack will go in each instance and you're less likely to have splits and checks too close to other parts of trail. Google Earth is a particularly useful tool for doing this.

Lastly, never plan anything into your trail that you think the pack would be uncomfortable attempting - again, your job is to make sure that every member of the pack makes it to the beer stop, so while having the pack swim across Yundang lake might seem like a fun and innovative idea, ask yourself whether such an action would discourage people from getting to your beer stop. If it does, you should probably plan an alternate route for people who are not as hardcore as yourself.

At Huandaolu Hash House Harriers, trails can be A-A runs, where we finish at the same location we started from or A-B, where the trail finishes at another location. A-B runs need to be carefully planned to ensure that everyone can find the “B” (finish point). When deciding where to start and finish your trail consider the transportation needs of the pack. At Huandaolu Hash House Harriers the vast majority of people use public transportation so the start must be easily accessible by public transport and the finish should be reasonably placed for wherever you intend people to go for dinner after the hash. The only criteria for choosing a restaurant is that it should be relatively inexpensive.

Since you are going to all the trouble of setting trail you probably want as many people as possible to join in the fun. It's essential to send accurate details to the Hair Raiser in good time, including the starting point (full address), the nearest bus stop and a list of buses that stop there. Don’t forget to identify which side of the street you will be start from (e.g. mountain side, east side). Ideally this should be done more than two weeks in advance so that it can be announced at the preceding hash. Remember that the instructions have to be clear so that visitors can find it - don't just assume that everyone knows "because we've been there before so many times". If you turn up to the preceding hash you can make sure your hash is advertised and you can also collect song sheets at the end of this hash for your own hash.

Step 3: Lay the Trail

You've made it this far, I guess that it is time to lay the actual trail. Your first decision should be whether to pre-lay the trail (“dead hare”) or to lay the trail live (“live hare”). This is a matter of personal preference, but there are certain things to consider for each situation.

For a dead hare trail, the most important thing to do is leave yourself enough time to set trail - this varies depending on how much running you do while setting trail. If you like to take it easy and walk the trail while laying it, you will need at least two hours for every one hour of pack running. Most trails takes 3-4 hours to lay. If you're going to run while setting trail you'll obviously need less time.

If you are live-haring, you should designate another hasher as your chalk-talk hare and given them written instructions regarding the marks you will use on the trail. Your chalk-talk hare will send the pack out 15 minutes after you have departed.

Whether you dead-hare or live-hare, the objective in placing your marks is to allow the pack to easily follow your trail. All of your marks should be in plain sight and not hidden behind walls, dumpsters, etc. The only exception applies to the first few marks leading away from a checkpoint. Those blobs or arrows may be somewhat hidden in order to make solving the check a bit more difficult.

Also consider the distance between your marks. Once you set a mark, it may be 2 to 3 hours before the pack comes along (unless you are live-haring). Anything can happen during that time. Your marks should be close enough together so that if one or two marks get wiped out (someone waters their lawn or parks their car on your arrow), the pack can still figure out how to continue on your trail. At a minimum, there should be a mark every 30-to-40 paces. There is no such thing as a trail that is too well marked! If in doubt put more marks.

If you are setting a trail during daylight hours that the pack will run after dark, take note of the location of street lights and use them to your advantage by placing marks in a spot that will be illuminated. To be safe you should also test-run the trail at night to determine the best locations for marks.

Now it’s time to decide what you're going to mark trail with. The prime considerations here are the weather and the time of day the run will take place.

White Flour – The standard trail marking material in Xiamen. You will need approximately 2-3 kilograms of flour to lay the trail and another kilogram to sweep the trail behind the pack (see Step 4). To make blobs, most people put the flour into a few supermarket carrier bags one inside the other to stop the flour coming out of the holes), dip in a tennis ball and throw it at the ground (or keep it in the hand to knock against rough surfaces which it would bounce off in random directions). Flour is particularly useful on rainy days. It takes much longer for flour to wash away than other material. It can also be placed on rough vertical surfaces like trees which are better protected from the rain and not swept away by the ever vigilant Xiamen street cleaners.

White Chalk – White chalk can be used for marking trail when the weather is good. It provides high contrast, which makes your marks easy for the pack to see. White chalk works well day or night but washes away quickly in the rain.

Remember, there are no “rain-outs” on the hash. If your trail gets washed away by rain, you are still responsible for going back out and re-marking it. Plan carefully. Watch the weather forecast and choose your marking material wisely. If you were planning to dead-hare your trail and rain is on the way, you may want to consider holding off and live-haring the trail instead. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can almost always find someone in the pack that is willing to step up and help you live-hare your trail if you’re not up to the task yourself.

Don't forget to use standard Huandaolu marks when laying trail as well - new marks can be fun and exciting, but try to incorporate them slowly, as switching to a completely new marking system is likely to just confuse the hounds. Standard Huandaolu marks are as follows:

On-On marks the start of the trail.

or Blobs or arrows are simple trail marks that indicate the direction of the trail.

Splits (multi-pronged arrows) are decision points where the trail goes in one of the directions indicated by the arrows. One simple trail mark is required to indicate true trail.

Checks (circles) are decision points where trail can go any of 360 degrees and three separate marks are required to indicate true trail.

or False Trail (FT or three straight lines) indicates that the pack has been fucked and should return to the check and look in another direction.

Checkback indicates that the pack should count back (#) simple trail marks (in this case 4). The checkback itself is not a simple trail mark. The (#)th dot now acts as a check

Walkers (W) Runners(R) Splits the trail. Easier for Whimps, harder for Rambo’s

Beer Near shows that the pack is close to the beer stop (usually 500 metres or less)

Beer Stop tells the pack to stop and enjoy a frosty brew.

On-In marks the end of the trail.

Lastly, and most importantly, when you are laying trail (especially if you are doing it with flour) you are going to encounter people asking what you're doing - the easiest thing to tell people is that you're laying a trail for a running club and that you're simply using chalk or flour so that people know where to go. If you're laying flour explain to them that what you're using is just flour and is perfectly safe for pets and little children.

Remember that when you're out laying trail you're a representative of the Huandaolu Hash House Harriers, and even though we all enjoy being rude, crude, and socially undesirable, that doesn't mean that we want our hares to piss off the locals. Want to get your trail immortalized for all of the wrong reasons? Piss off somebody while setting trail and get the authorities called on us.

Step 4: Chalk Talk, Sweeping The Trail, Beer Stop(s) and Circle

So you're done laying trail and you've found your way back to the starting point. At the starting point you should have song sheets (that you collected from the last hash), sign-in sheets and badges (that the GM gave you) a bottle of water for each runner and plastic cups to distribute at the beer stop(s). Nominate someone to sign-in people, collect their money (20RMB per person) and hand out badges to virgins. You now have three really important responsibilities left. The first of which is chalk talk.

Chalk talk is a simple concept - before the pack departs the meeting point it gathers in a circle and the hare explains which marks are used out on trail. This is helpful because it gives virgin hashers and visitors a chance to familiarize themselves with our standard Huandaolu marks, or it gives you a chance to show the pack all of the new and interesting marks that you've messed up the trail with. Even if you only laid your trail with standard Huandaolu marks and you have only veteran hashers, you should still go through the marks at chalk talk, just to be sure. The On-On Guide will help make sure you don’t forget anything. Also, don't forget to leave an on-out arrow for any late-comers.

Your next responsibility as a hare is sweeping. Sweeping the trail is mandatory. Simply put, it is your job as the hare to make sure the trail is marked so that the slower hashers have a chance to catch up to those in the front of the pack. You started sweeping when you left an on-out arrow at the start point. At every check, split or significant change in direction indicate the trail direction with an arrow after the pack has passed through. The hares must do this themselves or designate a member of the pack as “sweeper” and provide them with chalk or flour and detailed information about the trail.

Don't forget the beer stop(s). As a hare you're also responsible for getting beer to the beer stop(s) for the pack. Most hares keep things simple and have the beer stop right where the beer is purchased. If you want a beer stop somewhere more remote you've got to go out and purchase beer, physically take it to the beer stop, and safeguard it for the pack.

To keep costs reasonable Huandaolu Hash House Harriers buy 500ml bottles of beer, usually Qingdao. Hares are required to provide plastic cups at the beer stop(s) and circle to allow people to share a bottle. Hares should also encourage runners to keep their cups from one beer stop to the next. This reduces pollution and the number of plastic cups hares have to carry around.

When purchasing beer for the beer stop, keep the size of the pack and the weather in mind - while a case of Qindao might be fun to down at the beer stop for a pack of ten during the summer, in the winter it might be too much for even a pack of 25. A good rule of thumb is 6 (4) large bottles of beer for every ten people in the summer (winter). Beer should be served at a reasonable temperature (ie. do not bring warm beer to a beer stop in the middle of summer). Bringing water on especially hot days is also encouraged - you don't want people passing out from heat exhaustion during circle, after all. And don’t forget some snacks for the pack; nothing elaborate - chips, biscuits, crackers all go down well.

Your distance from the Beer Stop to the On-in should also be noted. The Huandaolu Hash House Harriers typically have their beer stops evenly spaced. If you only have one beer stop it should be one-half to two-thirds of the way along the trail.

Once you reach the end, you then need to organize beer and snacks for the circle. A good rule of thumb is 12 (8) beers for every 10 people in the summer (winter). Appoint beer bitches to buy more beer if you run out and someone else to organize the down-downs. Or MC yourself by following the On-In Guide. You should also confirm your imminent arrival with your chosen restaurant for the post-hash dinner.

Step 5: Drink Up

Congrats, the hounds have all made it back to the circle. You have appointed an MC for the circle and beer bitches to keep the beer flowing. Now you can sit back, relax, and prepare for a barrage of down-downs. Chance are you messed something up, and badly, and even if you haven't, the pack is likely to take out their anger on you anyway - stay calm and take your down-downs with your chin up. I hope you remembered when that last bus leaves, because chances are you're going to need it.

Final note:

If the above all seems too much don’t be afraid to ask for help. The pack will happily let you do it all if you choose but will also cheerfully pitch in if asked.