What a privilege it’s been to participate in this crazy malarkey. A bit more than 50 runs in, and I feel like Hashing has changed my life; definitely for the better. Between the friendships, the exercise, the experiences, and the beer, I’m delighted to have spent so much time with NHHH. To think that I’ve missed more than one and a half thousand runs makes me envious; to think that I might see the two thousandth, and beyond, makes me a very happy Hasher.
Sunday’s run wasn’t the best attended, nor did the weather promise much at the outset: wind and a bit of drizzle greeted the Hash. This of course didn’t matter, because you don’t worry about the weather when you’re going to the pub, do you? Nor when you’re attending a piss-up in a brewery.
The wa*king contingent was unusually large this Sunday, ranks swelled by usual r*nners Ion Dick (bad knee), Trees Are (fell down the stairs), and Mary Poppins (joined in partway through). The r*n attracted some rare appearances: Nickerless was dragged along by the dog, and Kamikhazi showed his face as well. Pop and Treasure Chest were the hares, and between the choice of venue and the trail I’d say they played a blinder.
On out was through the back streets of Byker, teenage stomping ground of Inncontinents. We’d only been going for a few minutes when Hash Playtime was declared.
This remains one of my favourite things about the Hash. The sheer quantity of daft, childish shit which we chuck in every week makes me inordinately happy. If you stop a civilian in the street and ask them when they last had a go on a climbing frame, they’ll look at you funny and then, as they walk away, a part of them will wonder why it’s such a long time since they did anything like that. And they will find no answer within themselves other than “I’m not allowed”.
Past the back of Byker we found ourselves on the bike tracks near St Anthony’s. By this time (12:05pm to be exact) we’d given up on Five Kuai, so of course he turned up having chased us down for almost half an hour. Kuai’s diligence in being consistently and comically late is true-blue Hash bullshit of the finest sort; good work that man.
The clouds began to lighten as we ran out east, then doubled back west along the banks of the river. I thought I’d learnt a lot about this town and its funny little corners since I began training for races, but Hashing has opened up a whole new world. When the competition is not to run the furthest, nor the fastest, but via the most interesting route, that’s when ingenuity really shines. Pop and TC did so well that Hash Sab didn’t even manage to find any decent shortcuts.
The hares had found some stairs between the diverging arms of the bike tracks. On one of these they laid a morley, about halfway down – followed by another at the bottom. This innovation opens up great vistas of opportunity; how many of those goddamn things could you get away with laying in a row? Could you get three, maybe even four in a row before the rest of the Hash pulled your shoes off and beat you to death with them?
There were sweaty shirts and high spirits as we came back up through St Peters, and that was just me. I lost count of how many FRBs I’d hit – I didn’t care, I was on one of those wonderful booze-boosted r*nner’s highs that kick in after a few miles of dashing about. The weather was getting better as we pulled up at the Tyne Bar, one of Newcastle’s oldest and best pubs, to find the wa*kers already installed. The pub had Stay Puft (salted caramel version) on tap. I’ve rarely been happier at a bar, and that’s saying something.
This was where the first shortcut was offered. Another excellent element of the Hash, and of NHHH in particular: it’s modular, it’s inclusive, and if you decide three miles is enough and you want to bugger off back to the bar you can do so, no bother, because the hares have planned their route with that in mind.
We cracked on across Walker Road bridge and up to where St Ann’s Church reminds the area of its heritage. In the churchyard we had a nice little history stop to recall Pop’s wedding and Innconts’ baptism in the church (or was it the other way round?). During this lovely little misty-eyed moment one of the churchgoers stuck her head out of the door, gave us a worried look, then ducked back in, so we buggered off sharpish to avoid disturbing whatever celebration was taking place inside.
Along the main road for a quarter mile, then down Sandhill we headed. As you’d expect from Sunday afternoon, the Quayside area was busy with foot and car traffic, and the drivers were really very good about sitting still while we straggled across the road in front of them. I love watching the Hash do this; it’s like the bison on the great plains, or maybe the zebra on the Serengeti. Okay, it’s more like those flocks of sheep that surround your car in the Lake District with seemingly no idea where they’re going and no clue what a car really is – basically a force of nature which the normal folks just have to sit and wait for.
Since a Newcastle run wouldn’t be a Newcastle run without bridges, we did a loop over Swing Bridge and Millennium Bridge. FRBs here gave us some nice tourist interaction opportunities. Linking the two was a hike up onto the heights of the Sage where we found a sobering and imposing installation: a statue of knives, erected in memory of teenagers murdered in stabbings.
Striking, potent and thought-provoking imagery.
This picture was taken moments before Less Cargo and Sab both stepped in the same smear of dogshit.
There was the inevitable Hash Flash spot on the Millennium Bridge – so inevitable that six Hashers (including me) ran straight past it without realising. Once almost all had been called back we had a photo taken by an obliging chap who made no attempt to run off with the camera.
At this point we had beer in our minds and home in our hearts. The hares had arranged us another beer stop, something we’d all been fervently hoping for, and I’m glad to say it wasn’t much further…
..in fact it was the Brinkburn St Brewery, a stone’s throw from the Tyne Bar and less than half a mile from our point of origin. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the modern Quayside, and reassure ourselves that, Grey Street notwithstanding, the best parts of Newcastle are yet to come.
Brinkburn St provided yet more excellent beer. Time became an issue here, as we were expected to go Full Circle and circle up before 2:30pm when the rugby would start. This we managed to do, even though there was considerable confusion over pizzas and the vibrators they came with. Retired RA Omm officiated the circle due to Pimp’s absence. Despite not being an RA I managed to hog the circle for almost two minutes with some hastily-prepared bullshit and a crudely-drawn picture of a cock and balls. I’m delighted to say that this actually got laughs. Where else but the Hash could I get away with that?
In all, it was a tremendous day out. I’ve not attempted to dress this account up like I usually would as I think that run spoke for itself. I’ll push my luck by saying this on behalf of the whole Hash: it was bloody good fun, let’s have sixteen hundred more.