The roots of Hash House Harriers go back to the English cross country running sport of paper chases or “Hares and Hounds”. These Hare and Hound clubs, usually known as Harriers were present in the Malay Peninsula in the early 1930’s due to the number of ex-pats present in the area.
A.S. Gispert (known as’G’), Cecil Lee, ‘Horse’ Thomson and ‘Torch’ Bennet ran with some of these clubs prior to moving to KL in 1938. Once in Kuala Lumpur (KL) they started their own club which ran on Mondays to work off the excesses of the weekend. G named the new club the Hash House Harriers, a mildly derogative nickname given (for the unimaginative food) to the Royal Selangor Club Chambers, where the club was based.
Run Number 1 was held from the Club in December 1938. The numbers on the books remained low, especially during World War 2 and the Malaya Independence struggle. In fact, the club stopped running on the arrival of the Japanese as their activities were actually illegal due to the curfew imposed.
After the War the club was re-created by the surviving members primarily as a tribute to A.S “G” Gispert, who had been killed during the War. A second club was formed on the ltalian Riviera in Bordighera in April 1947 by an English prisoner of war who remained in Italy after the war. This club flourished among British servicemen until 1961.
At KLH3’s 1000th run on 12 March, 1966 all 12 current hash clubs were represented and they all were based “locally” within South East Asia.
Hash spread slowly, at first mostly within South East Asia. Hobart H3 and Sydney H3 were two of the first hash clubs outside South East Asia, both formed in October 1967.
At KLH3’s 1500th run on 23 June, 1973 there were 35 known hash clubs, 11 from Malaysia and 8 from Australia.
The latest Harrier International Directory lists over 1600 active hash chapters in 181 countries or territories with USA (350 clubs), Australia (261), UK (168), Malaysia (130), Indonesia (84) and New Zealand (55). You can go hashing from Antarctica to Iceland or Albania to Zimbabwe.