As mentioned earlier I’d planned to get a bit of running done during the Christmas holidays. Originally this had just been the 4 mile run at Clevedon, and hoped to get a few other runs in as time allowed. I was pleased however to hear that the Mendip Hills Hash House Harriers (MH4) were organising a run from my parents local pub. Which is, quite literally, a stones throw away from their front door.
In fact, it transpired it was co-organised/set by my friend Jake, who’s a regular runner with them. Thankfully for me, this run was taking place during daylight hours. The usual meet time is 7pm, which means torches are required at this time of year.
Hash House Harriers (or H3) is an international running idea that seems to have started with the British in 1938 Malaysia, and spread along with expatriates. Sometimes best described as ‘*drinkers with a running problem*’, it’s a lot of fun. The essence is a ‘hare’ sets a course using (in our case) flour or chalk markers along a course. There are detours and dead-ends. The idea is that the runners wanting more of a run get to work out the dead-ends, with cries of ‘Are you’, ‘On Two’, and ‘On On’, ensuring that folk know how each option is progressing in finding the way forward. Loopbacks (Certain number of runners to run to the back of the group) also help keep the group together.
I’d expected it to be a lot more of a, er, clique, but was completely wrong in that regard (as I was when joining my running club). Runners of all sorts are largely, it seems, thoroughly friendly and welcoming people. Some interesting chats and conversations along the way, and able to get a great run in as well as see a few bits of the Mendip hills I’ve not seen in a long time.
The route took us out of Priddy, down to Ebbor Gorge (a small gorge in the Mendips, a few miles to the south-east of the more well known Cheddar Gorge). We went all the way to the bottom of the Gorge. Then all the way to the top (165m each way!), where we enjoyed a wonderful view across the Somerset levels. It was then back to Priddy across more muddy fields, back to the Queen Victoria, and back to Jakes’ for mince pies and mulled wine (although by the time I got there, having detoured for a convenient shower, the mulled wine had gone). I may even have been persuaded to join in the Christmas Carols, despite the abject lack of alcohol in my blood stream that’s normally mandatory…
Road running shoes weren’t the best for the event. Some trail shoes would probably have been better. Thankfully the ground wasn’t too soggy, just a little slippery in a few places. We ran 8.97km, and were running for about 1hr 20m, but there was a lot of stopping and hanging about, for chats and regrouping. My Garmin was set to auto-pause because of that, so total time spent moving was 54:50. Giving an average moving pace of 6:06/km, which wasn’t too bad considering.
What struck me most about it was that everybody got the run they wanted out of it, and we all stuck together. Those at the front, chasing the trail, were getting a great run. Those at the back got a sociable chat with some great exercise. The format of the event also meant everybody stayed together.
So thoroughly enjoyable. And after mentioning I was doing this on my running club forum, it seems the coaches have taken the idea on board of setting one sometime in the summer. I’ll certainly be trying to take part in another one (and kinda hoping they’ll re-run the West Mendip way super challenge). There’s also a long-running Glasgow Hash which I might check out sometime if I can’t make it to my running club in time.