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Hounds and Hares a hit

Runners applaud running series' new trail run

Melinda Mawdsley

The pre-race conversation that focused mostly on the post-race party should have been a clue that the Hounds and Hares Trail Run was different.

If not that, then perhaps the giant flour “X” sprinkled at the top of the first climb and the piles of sawdust placed farther down the trail should have raised some questions as to what exactly was going on Saturday at Howelsen Hill.

But all questions were answered when race director Tracey Tyson, complete in rabbit ears, nose and oversized teeth, gathered everyone at the start and sent them off on the first hash to be held as part of the Steamboat Springs Running Series.

Saturday’s run wasn’t a race or a competition. It was more of a hunt for the finish line.

The Hounds and Hares Trail Run was based on an old English game of “Hares and Hounds” in which some players, or “hounds,” chase other players, or “hares,” who have dropped paper scraps along a route.

In the case of Saturday’s run, Tyson and some helpers laid a trail with flour signs and sawdust markers all over Howelsen Hill’s trails. They served as the hares, and the registered runners were the hounds trying to find the finish line.

The Hash House Harriers is an organization that puts together these types of hash races around the world. The hash races originated to help people with a fondness for drinking stay in shape, said long-time hash runner Bruce Lenell of Arvada.

That’s why it isn’t a race. Not all runners are interested in going fast.

The object is for the hounds to work together as a team to avoid going on the wrong trails, which would give the hares even more of an advantage.

Some people who took part in Saturday’s inaugural event, such as Lenell, were hash veterans. Some were not. Walter Magill, a regular in the Steamboat Springs Running Series but a first-time hasher, crossed the finish line first, well ahead of the others left to navigate their way through the maze on Howelsen Hill.

“It was fun,” he said. “Howelsen is a good place to do this type of run. They did a good job of misleading you.”

Magill knows Howelsen’s trails fairly well, but many people taking part in Saturday’s run did not, including some runners from Routt County.

Barb Jones and Hayden’s Laura Zirkle crossed the finish line together, but not before they could be seen uphill trying to decide whether to follow a trail or cut through brush and take a more direct route to the bottom. They chose the second.

Jones doesn’t run on Howelsen, but she enjoyed her hour spent trying to find the bottom Saturday. She even learned a few important lessons about how to approach a hash: “You want to stay in a group, and you don’t want to be in the lead,” she said.

One element of a hash run that Tyson did not include was an aid station with water and beer. Instead, she surprised runners with two aid stations with water and a mission to accomplish before they could resume.

At the first station, runners had to shove four marshmallows in their mouths and say “Chubby Bunnies” before continuing. At the second, as if running atop Howelsen on a hot day didn’t make mouths dry enough, runners had to eat three saltine crackers and blow a bubble with gum.

“We came up to a water station, and I didn’t know it was something else,” Jones said. “This guy squashed all these marshmallows together and handed them to me. I hope he had clean hands.”

Saturday was Tyson’s first attempt at holding a hash in Steamboat.

“I think people had a great time,” she said. “I think the word will get out. I’m excited to do it again.”


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