Phnom Penh Hash House Harriers: In the Spotlight – Azerbaijan

In the Spotlight – Azerbaijan

In the Spotlight – Azerbaijan
By Ed "Hazukashii" Howell
11 Aug 2021

Part of joy of traveling to new countries, is not only to meet new friends and run the hash, but also the amazing things to see and do.  History has always fascinated me, and I have learned so much from my traveling experiences.  Just reading about things has no comparison to actually being there.  This trip was no exception, and there are many interesting aspects of Azerbaijan.  Located with the Caspian Sea to the east, Azerbaijan is bordered by Iran to the south, Armenia to the west, and Georgia and Russia to the north (There is also a small detached enclave to the west, that touches Turkey, and has been a flash point between Armenia and Azerbaijan).  The capital city is Baku, and one unique fact is that it's the lowest capital city in the world, residing an incredible 28 meters below sea level.  Azerbaijan is an oil rich country, and was the leading producer of petroleum in the early 20th century.  According to the encyclopedia Britannica, "Fine horses and caviar continue as some of the more distinctive traditional exports of the republic."  Annexed by the former Soviet Union in the early 20th century, Azerbaijan gained its independence on 30 August 1991.

As part of the Caucasus region, along with Armenia, Georgia, and southern Russia, Azerbaijan has been host to many regional hash events, primarily INTERCAUC (or INTERCOCK depending on who you talk to), rotating hosting duties every three years with Georgia and Armenia.  The first INTERCAUC was held in 2002, and continued steady for nearly 2 decades, with the last one being held in May 2019, with over 80 hashers from Qatar, Georgia, Norway, UAE, Singapore, Belgium, Italy and the UK, and was also the 1000th Running of the Baku H3.

The history of the Baku H3 is fuzzy at best, and after much research and talking to many local hashers, the best I could come up with is, that the Baku H3 was born out of a random group of people holding informal hash runs on a random basis in the summer of 1996, according to Robert 'Sir Snickers' Radley.  From that amalgamation, Sir Snickers (who came to Baku from the Accra H3 in Ghana) teamed up with Richard Price to officially form the first iteration of the Baku H3 around October 1996.  After 2 years of steady hashing, the hash eventually faded for about a year, until another group of nameless and faceless hashers started up the second iteration of the Baku H3.  Sir Snickers goes on to say, "I had very little to do with hash No. 2 as I was often working, though I did very occasionally run. Several of us left when the hash became a bit silly. and drew too much attention to itself at a time when running was 'NOT DONE' other than on The Boulevard. I was hauled into a police station when running on Nobel Prospect and given a long lecture which I pretended not to understand."  This second iteration lasted less than a year.  Finally, sometime in the summer of 2002, the third and current iteration of the Baku H3 was formed by Ben 'Sir Moonboots' Hodgson, assisted by his wife Phyllis 'Stoned Banshee' Lyon, and Suzie 'Teletubby' Cornell.  Teletubby was the central figure of the Baku H3 for nearly a decade, but has recently retired and returned to the US, while Sir Snickers still pops in from time to time for visits and to attend hashing events.  There were no records kept from the original Baku H3, so Moonboots randomly started this third Baku H3 on run number 100, and commenced from there.

On my recent visit to Baku, I enjoyed a blazing, and when I say blazing, I mean HOT, trail.  At the time of the start, it was 106 degrees Fahrenheit (42C), and by the end the temps had dropped nary a degree.  We had 10 hashers on trail, and the start was a bit of a mess.  The hares planned to set trail from one park in the city, but posted the location of another park.  As we stood waiting for the hares to arrive, highlighted by texting back and forth with the GM, saying "we're here, where are you?" and getting a response of "we're here, where are you?" . . . the hares finally realized their error, but it was the pack that paid the price.  The only solution was for the hares to extend trail start from their park, to the park we were in, thus adding an additional kilometer to the day's excursion (Did I mention it was 42C/106F degrees out?  Reportedly the hottest day of the year so far.)  All in all, the trail ended up being 11 Kms long, and while there was one actual drink stop at 9 Kms, the pack had to make an impromptu water stop well before that. 

Finally making our way to the end of this A to B trail, the pack wasted little time breaking open the beer cooler, and drowning our weary bones in several pints of the local piss.  A short but energetic circle commenced, the hares were appropriately punished for their efforts, and fun was had by all.  We then shuffled our way back into town to HOPS, the hash pub, and continued to rehydrate our dried-out livers.  It was a great day, in an equally amazing city, on the shores of the Caspian Sea.  I highly recommend Baku as a travel destination.  The food is good, the beer is cold, and the Baku H3 as a great trail running hash club.  If you do go, you can also join various hashers who gather for an informal 'Thirsty Thursday' run, and if you are really lucky, current Baku H3 GM 'Putin Pussy' or former GM 'Peanut Bladder' may also join you for a drink on the town. 

For many more articles like this on the history of hashing, check out . . .

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On on!