Tips for setting a hash
The Notes for Happy Hashing (hare ‘em, don’t scare ’em!)
Always remember that each trail you lay may be someone’s first time, and SH4 want runners to come back again and again! You may enjoy running 15 miles without stopping but that’s not what hashing is about and certainly not what SH4 tell people when they ask us for details.
How far should a hash be?
There is of course no right answer to that question. In the past SH4 layed trails where the main loop was in excess of 7 miles. By the time the false trails were added the total distance could be 8, 9 or 10 miles. This is why we had so many first timers who never returned. We now find that between 5.5 and 6 miles is about the right distance.
How do I find a good trail?
SH4 is proud that we never know how many people are going to turn up. Always find a start with enough room for at least 10 cars. If possible visit the start on the same day at the same time, several weeks early, before committing yourself. If there isn’t any room when you visit then there probably won’t be on run day either. (Of course Bank Holiday runs are harder to estimate). Don’t try and lay a trail from memory without visiting the area. Footpaths have a habit of disappearing. Run the trail at least once and if possible twice. Never cross private land unless you have permission. Stick to public footpaths and roads.
How can I measure my trail before I lay it?
A very long piece of string tied to your car at the start has proved to be a very unsuccessful method! A much quicker and easier way is to identify on a map, the 2 points farthest apart on your intended route. If these points are more than 3 miles apart then your trail is going to be too long unless you run directly between them i.e. 6 miles. If the points are less than 2 miles apart then it could be too short, unless the route is almost circular.
What are the markings for?
A hash is a group event. All the runners are trying to find the Hare’s trail. Within the trail, the Hare lays various checks and false trails to confuse the group. The more checks there are, the more searching is required and the less chance there is of anyone racing off by himself or herself. Trails with too few checks spread the runners out, making it impossible for the slower runners to keep up with the faster ones.
How many sorts of marking are there?
There are 5 main marks all made with flour:
Standard trail marks - Small blobs of flour, usually about 30 to 50 metres apart depending on the territory. You may wish to lay the trail in such a way that viewing is restricted to only one side of a row of trees for example, but the trail should never be deliberately hidden.
Round Checks - A circle of flour about 12 to 24 inches diameter signifying a possible change of direction. At a round check there can be many trails, but only one will be the real trail. The rest will all be false trails. The genuine trail will be three consecutive blobs of flour (trail marks - see above).
False Trails - Found only at round checks, a false trail consists of 2 blobs of flour followed by the letter ‘F’. A false trail should never exceed 300 metres. False trails have a very important use. They tell the runners that the path is incorrect. In the past SH4 laid false trails without an ‘F’ at the end. The result was that we lost people. False trails are particularly useful on busy roads, where the traffic noise makes calling people back to a check very difficult if they have run too far.
Arrow Checks - A set of arrows pointing to all the possible routes. Only the genuine trail will be marked. There are no false trails at an arrow check
Bar Checks - A line of flour across the path beyond which there is no trial. The real trail will continue to one side of the trail leading up to the bar check. Once again there are no false trails. A clever bar check will reverse the field. The lead runners will reach the bar and start to return. The slower runners, seeing the others return, will often find the real trail first.
How much flour do I need?
4 and 5 bags, depending on the number of checks and false trails you intend to lay.
Above all have fun laying your trails. SH4 want you to enjoy them and lay many more! Thank you & Good Luck