Phnom Penh Hash House Harriers: Fwd: In the Spotlight – Croatia

Fwd: In the Spotlight – Croatia

In the Spotlight – Croatia
By Ed "Hazukashii" Howell
8 Mar 2020

Croatia, or rather Hrvatska as it is pronounced in Croatian, was once part of the former Yugoslavia.  Declaring independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, along with Slovenia, resulted in a period of unrest and 4 years of war in the region.  Since 1995, Hrvatska has seen many years of economic growth and peace, and today is a thriving and peaceful country.  In the midst of this, the city of Zagreb has enjoyed weekly bliss in the form of the Hash House Harriers.  Founded on 2 Jan 1975 by Paul Redmond, who had been hashing in Washington, DC, and Peter Armstrong who had most recently been hashing in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, were both in attendance at a Christmas Eve party in 1974 in Zagreb.  I recently joined in for a run with the Zagreb H4, and the following story was explained to me by Sir John (the Sir was added when he hit 1000 hash runs), who has been running with the Zagreb H4 since its third hash back in January 1975, and has been a member ever since.  If you do the math (45 years times 52 weeks a year, that equals 2340 weeks), and on my recent visit I had the great opportunity to run on Zagreb H4 Trail #2355.  So, you can easily see that no level of threat kept the hash from running their weekly trails.  Although there is no sign in or records, Sir John figures he has run nearly 1900 trails with Zagreb H4. 

Getting back to the founders, as Sir John explained to me, Paul and Peter were chatting at the Christmas party, and Paul mentioned he wanted to start a hash.  Peter responded with something like, how do you know about the hash, and the conversation went on to reveal how they both were hashers and had hashed in Kuala Lumpur some years ago.  Two weeks later the first trail was set, and included great hash drama.  As Sir John continued to explain, the pack of about 10 got arrested when locals heard a bunch of foreigners running through the woods yelling.  The police were called, and they come out to investigate, eventually arresting the whole pack.  On the way to the police station, Paul says he has to call his wife, as she is sick.  He actually calls some local officials, but tells the police that his sick wife wanted to talk to them.  Handing the phone over to the police, they are informed that Paul and Peter are diplomats, and the police need to return them to their start location and drop them off.  Disgruntled, they do just that, and the Hash is never bothered again.  The hash genealogy includes listings for the Zagreb Strollers H3 founded in May 1995 by Derek "Poopers" Cooper, which has faded into the sunset.  Also listed is the Dalmatian H3 founded in Jun 2003 by Sami "Antibiotic" Sakoman, that conducts hash cruises every year or two (8 so far) along the islands and coast line of the Adriatic Sea.   

On my recent visit, I found Zagreb to be lovely and well-maintained.  The hash met on the north side of the city, in a park that bordered on the forest.  After some brief introductions and instructions, we set off down the road.  Soon enough, we turned right onto an access trail that began a long uphill climb through the forest, on dirt roads and associated mountain bike trails.  Dodging many mud puddles and various other obstacles, the pack of about a dozen solved many checks to eventually arrive at the top of the mountain.  From there, as they say, it was all downhill, and the pack was soon all gathered up back at the start.  Since it was still about 12C degrees out, we all quickly changed into dry clothes, and then gathered for some socializing. 

On the Zagreb hash, there is no charge, but the hares are responsible to provide food and beer for the pack.  Our lead hare for the day was Quickie, and she had set out a large loaf of bread, with a stack of cheese and meat, and two cases of beer.  As we munched away, she explained that her father had cooked a pot of beans and sausages the night before, but something happened overnight, and the whole pot went bad.  "It all went into the toilet" she explained.  Another hasher chimed in, "It was destined to end up there anyway" to many chuckles.  A quick circle covered most of the usual offenses, and after about 45 minutes, with our toes and fingers going numb, we bid farewell and moved on to the warmth of the car.  It was a great day with the Zagreb H4, and I will certainly be coming back (when it is warmer out) for another run around the forest.  Many thanks to the Zagreb H4.     

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