62 - Altogether a different Hash

It seems to me that I write some of these tales more than once, but, having worked through the whole collection of Essays looking for, finding and fixing typos, type-setting faults and unacceptable English, it appears that this is another of those I thought already consigned to these pages. On Hash describes the basic idea(s) of hashing and should be read before working through this.

Moving to Southern China means moving into heat, but, more than that, into humidity. The absolute temperature in August is higher in Xi’an and in Nanjing, though both are further away to the north than Britain and England are long, respectively. Indeed, I think Xi’an is hotter than Nanjng in the summer. The winter works the same, in that the weather continues to be more extreme with going north and west.

One of the FRBs I enjoyed running with in the Nanjing Hash said he’d taken a trip to Guangzhou (GZ, Canton as was) as part of his work, so stayed over to do a hash with the group there. He described a collection of mad buggers with hills, jungle and speed. Since I had trouble keeping up with him much of the time myself, this group sounded like masochistic heaven. Thus it was that one went looking for the hash group on the internet, thinking that GZ was not all that far away, and since it is the only Hash in the area, worth the trip just to find out if going more than once was going to prove worthwhile.

A little investigation finds a hash website and, amazingly, this group holds a hash every week, plus an extra on the full-moon, so five per month. Unsurprisingly, then, the next hash has a 4 figure number. I communicate with Sir Cum Navigator - all names are rude, vulgar and possibly too much for delicate sensibilities, but you get used to it (eventually) - on the mis-management and we work out that I will be wanting a ‘longer’ hash to make it worth the trip to GZ, the hotel, etc. So we decide upon No 1044.

The website information conflicts with itself. More email ensues and eventually (just in time) we find how to register an ‘entry’, book an hotel, find tickets, etc. So it is that, having got up at some god-awful hour like 05:00 we catch the first bus to GZ and arrive in the right bit of the huge city (urban population 12 million) just after 09:00, a little earlier than we had intended, but not by much.

All our experience is based upon Nanjing hashing. You turn up later than the advertised time there and you’ll have down-down penalties plus other public humiliation for delaying the day’s fun for all. Enough so that you try hard not to be late. Here, as time creeps to the advertised start time of ten, we realise that this is different. The meeting point is the same every time in GZ and not so in Nanjing. The bus is loaded with stuff for the hash, requiring help from the hashers. It is a big group, two full coaches (so 70-80 people). Some look fit, and 30-40% are Chinese, much as we are used to. Among the things we put on the coach was a huge slab of ice, maybe 900x700x25; also a lot of beer, in plastic bins as you might use for house rubbish collection; quite a lot of assorted but unidentified gear, all well organised into carrying boxes - clearly this is a practised organisation. We are sold several T-shirts, commemorating various events.

We set off after 10:30 - so we’ve been up more than five hours already - and the first too loud shouting starts for beer from northern European voices. C and I have somehow found ourselves seats near the rear of the second coach, which since we were almost first to arrive, makes little sense, but then we were helping load the buses, weren’t we? This position puts us, as it happens, close to the apparent early drinkers.

The drive is a long one, sufficient to require a toilet stop and a lunch stop before we reach the start. Thus the equipment is largely explained. Lunch, off the bus and at the side of the road, shows that the people as a whole are pleasant, just not the nitwits we are sat near to. Also, we learn that the food is more than adequate and that the beer is unnecessary. I’m looking forward to a decent run, advertised as being in the ‘bamboo forest’ north of the city.

The buses reach the right area - I see a river a full 3m lower than the regular level - we drive along a road with a precipitous drop 30cm away from the wheels and eventually reach a mountainous area. The coaches flounder around looking for suitable parking and dropping off places and it is past 14:00 before any start occurs, shortly after two very wet runners appear from the undergrowth, having laid the trail that morning. That is serious running.

Off we go. Much as expected, as least at the start. The trails are from 40cm to 4m wide, some fit to put a transit on, some barely fit for feet. The ground is damp and the track base is often uneven, leaving people sliding all over. My shoes are good for this; we (C and I) are among the few wearing running gear and, it turns out, among the few runners, maybe 25% of the whole (but I wasn’t counting). It doesn’t take long, like the first control point, to discover that standards are different here; I’m used to On One, On Two, OnOn or turn around: the second and third controls had false trails with six blobs (well past the OnOn point), so lots of turning round (and me already worrying about down-downs, since calling OnOn falsely is a penalty job).

Apparently this is a “fuck-off hash”, which means it is someone’s farewell hash. That, apparently, excuses all sorts of breaking of the (non-declared) rules. It doesn’t make for good hashing, though it does include in the retracing of routes a segment of the crowd that would normally just saunter from A to B. Suffice it that the group I can call FRBs was quite large, maybe 15 strong, as the retracing element and searching for false trails got steadily longer.

There was a dog on the hash. In Nanjing, that’s quite possibly an offence. About 20 minutes into the hash, I was trying to go quickly from the back to the front, having been chasing a false trail (only 600m off course, ten blobs too far). In trying to get past the dog, a basset of sorts, I stepped of the trail by three steps. My right foot found a pit and the leg disappeared to the hip, leaving the left leg holding all the weight at no notice. My chest and face hit the forest floor at speed and I bounced. My right foot hit nothing, so it missed the punji stakes in the floor of the pit. Similarly, my head and torso missed any of the tree stumps, any one of which could have removed my future. My left ankle took a lot of punishment and, while I was up and gone in a trice, I realised rapidly that the remainder of the day was going to be a problem as the ankle was badly sprained. I remember a visual close-up of the forest floor; I remember the bounce; not much else.

The rest of the hash was spent hobbling as best I could at the back of the runners. It was quite a long one, about 16km. The forest was fantastic, particularly one short stretch after the ‘water stop’, in a village I largely missed - along with the water, for it was beer (and I didn’t find either) - and at that point, the trail went cold. A particularly tough woman took over hare duties and fixed the issue while we drank. Or didn’t. I had a look at the ankle, but there was not much I could do about it, no source of support (ha) and no choice but to soldier on.

Super countryside: the spectacular bit was just after the water stop, where we had a short steep climb with no track, just green bamboo. The trees here were about the same thickness as my upper arm, some 6-10 m tall - and they rotate in the ground when you pull on them to go uphill (a bit over 45º, wet and slippy, so there’s no choice but to pull on the vegetation). The next bit of hashing was good (better) fun, realising that one has no idea at all where one was, bugger all in the way of visual clues as to general direction or objectives. The larger lie of the land, occasionally glimpsed, suggested a valley ahead with a downward tendency and the feeling that the bus might be that-a-way. So it proved, but a long that-a-way. By now I’m back in the front dozen despite the limping and C is, too. It has rained lightly; the temperature is such that it is hard to tell whether the wet you are carrying is residual rain, water form the vegetation or sweat, but you’re soaked through and yet not cold. The last mile or so included wading a stream in grasses higher than my head, running along banks less than a stride wide between soggy fields of crops, finding track between rows of crops. Excellent hashing.

So back to the buses, which are parked beside some buildings that seem to be open-sided barns. There are people camping here, but, being Chinese, they’ve pitched their tents under the roof and so stolen much of the usable space. Beer and salty snacks are found and consumed with gusto. Ankle bad; nip into bus to change into dry clothes and back to the group for the ‘circle’, hoping food proper isn’t too far away and really wanting a roll of tape to help reduce swelling any more than already has happened.

The circle took two hours, not the 20 minutes we have become accustomed to in Nanjing. We were introduced, too, to the damned vuvuzela by some SethEffrikkens, with disgusting drinking habits (grab some unfortunate, stick the vuvuzela in their mouth, pour a beer in the other end) - fortunately, they picked on people of the same (large) size and ethnicity or hash officials. The poor guy, he whose FuckOff Hash it was, was forced to sit on the huge ice-cube (for most of an hour, which might well have consequences), as was one of the girls (bit of a dish, too). the drinking went on and on, with the reasons for yet another round of drink getting steadily more stupid, puerile and unnecessary - including one dickhead who produced a collection of condoms, lined up five likely (in what sense, pray? Prey?) girls and demanded they put the condom on their heads. And then proved he was a total prick by putting one on his own head all the way down to the chin.

...and when one past chairman gets called for a drink, ALL the past Chairmen.... ditto Americans, Jews, Africans, bald guys (that’s me in, then), beards (shit), Brits (not again) and so on. Pause for me to have cramp quietly elsewhere. The Religious Advisor has a surplice and cassock to wear (that must be hot, too) - and a HUGE voice.

Eventually, eventually, around 1930, we get into the buses and go eat. The Seth Effikk-aaaaners continue being stupid as the food is eaten (it was good, too). A little useful conversation is managed, but generally the noise is too much. It rains again, but harder, as we go to the buses (losing a few, who then need finding) as so begins the long journey back into town. Along with steady cries for “more beer” from the incapable habituates and some decidedly unsuitable racism from people I am embarrassed to call fellow Europeans, we reached our hotel at midnight. A long day.

DJS 20100824
top pic is of Safe Semen’s naming ceremony, and the reluctance of his partner to in her turn (ever?) be named.

Essays on Hashing

Running essays include 1723326677142188,

Hashing and hill-walking essays include 396287101135192

Allied sports health include  5863112124163188204

Other sport; Rowing

So it is also midnight before I can get, thanks to the hotel, some strapping on my ankle, an extra pillow to prop it up with, a bath and make a start on ministration. It proves to take from April 10th to 22nd May before attempting to run again at all. Pre-injury I had a week of runs under 3:50 per km. Following the ankle injury, I reach credible repair [inside 4:30 per km] and then the back goes, mid-July, for no obvious reason, but probably an accumulation of bad seating and sitting (especially in cars and planes, which sets it off, or out). It is the second half of August before any run gets back sub-4 and only this week, including the 57th birthday, have I has a run sub-4 and over 10km, where, back in March, I managed sub-4 for 14km, which is the target speed for the big race in Xi’an. See City Wall Race. See A bit of PT for repair routines.

© David Scoins 2017