We learned through the coconut telegraph that Grenada has an esteemed running club steeped in local tradition. As a runner, Cajun decided to join. The club is the Hash House Harrier’s of Grenada (HH3). HH3 has chapters all over the world including New Orleans (where Pirate and Cajun have participated in their annual Red Dress Run). The HH3 bill themselves as a “drinking club with a running problem” and are more about having a good time and socializing than achieving your personal best or working on fartleks. In fact, the HH3 Grenada begins and ends each group run or “hash” at a local rum shop. This ensures that you have ample opportunity to undo all of the good you did to your body during the run. They hash every fortnight at a different location around the island, usually in a very remote and beautiful area. Hashing with the Harrier’s of Grenada is a great way to experience this island and meet some of its people.
For HH3 virgins, a little explanation is in order to fully appreciate the club. All chapters operate under the same basic bylaws. One person acts as “hare” for each run. The “hare” is responsible for setting the course. He or she must plan out a 3-10 mile trail and mark it by sprinkling confetti or powder at various points along the route. To add to the challenge and fun, the hare also sets “false” trails at various points. There will be spots where two lines of confetti are set in opposite directions- only one is the right trail that will lead you to the finish line. The “false” trail will eventually lead you to a big X and then you have to backtrack and find the correct route. Along the route, runners shout “Are You?” to those ahead of them. Hashers then will yell back “ON ON” if they are on the marked trail or “LOST” or “CHECKING” if they are unsure or trying to find their way.
What sets Grenada HH3 apart from their counterparts in the states is the amazing setting that they have to work with in setting trails. Location! Location! Location! The trails that the hares set are spread across the most fantastic scenery and are very challenging. Trails are set through the rainforest and require hashers to rappel down mountains, climb steep terrain, wade through rivers, outrun wild animals and swat away mosquitoes bigger than the average cell phone.
We attended our first Grenada Hash on Saturday and had a fabulous time. The Hash was set in Baltheszar- about an hour’s uphill drive from our anchorage. Luckily we had a great driver- Alistar- who took a busload of us to the start of the Hash. The Pirate, who has bad knees from his football days, did not hash but was busy at work nonetheless. Pirate assisted Clyde the owner of the hosting rum shop in getting the grill going and the party started and ready for Hashers return. Cajun joined around 50 others in running, hiking, crawling and swimming their way to the finish line. The trail was great- weaving through private farmland, tiny villages, dense rainforest, rushing rivers and herds of goats. Cajun was fortunate to partner up with Sihan a military/green beret guy from Italy to help her through the race, especially the straight downhill segments. Some parts required you to swing downhill on bamboo poles like monkeys, other times wade knee deep in swirling rivers, and scariest of all was outrunning angry bulls who did not like the trespassers on their territory.
After nearly one and a half hours of this “eco challenge”, Cajun crossed the finish line near the head of the pack muddy and happy. Pirate was waiting there with cold Caribs. Pirate was the first to be served the “Oil Down”, a local dish (similar to gumbo) made outside in a huge pot. It includes all local ingredients like Lambi, breadfruit, plantains, christophene, etc. After much food and libations, Cajun then went through the initiation ritual required to officially join HH3 Grenada. This initiation required running through a gauntlet of members who sprayed beer and other unknown alcohols on you.
We had a wonderful time and are all set to attend our next Hash in one week. It will be a special night time Hash since it is a full moon. ON ON!