Phnom Penh Hash House Harriers: In the Spotlight – Czech Republic (Czechia)

In the Spotlight – Czech Republic (Czechia)

In the Spotlight – Czech Republic (Czechia)
By Ed "Hazukashii" Howell
27 Aug 2021

Located in Central Europe, the Czech Republic (a.k.a. Czechia since 2016) is a landlocked country, bordered by Germany to the north-west, Poland to the north-east, and Austria and Slovakia to the south.  According to the World Factbook, Czechia merged with Slovakia after World War I to become Czechoslovakia.  After several ruling parties failed, including annexation by Germany in World War II, Czechoslovakia fell behind the Iron Curtain of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party was "swept from power at the end of 1989 and inaugurated a return to democratic rule and a market economy. On 1 January 1993, the country underwent a nonviolent [separation] into its two national components, the Czech Republic and Slovakia."

The first hash club to form in then Czechoslovakia, was the Prague H3 in 1984.  The founder was Dave 'Fantum' Lewis, and he was assisted by his wife Terri 'Shadow' Lewis, and Glen 'Hornblowes' Johnson.  Fantum and Shadow were international school teachers, and that afforded them the opportunity to live and work in many different locations around the world.  They were introduced to hashing in the late 70s while working in Indonesia, by Brian 'Clavdivs' O'Sullivan, the founder of the Rumbai H3 (founded 24 April 1978), in Sumatra, Indonesia. 

I was able to track down Fantum, and he told me that . . .  "We moved to Prague when hired to work at the International School of Prague [ISP].  We loved Prague but missed Hashing as it had become an important part of our lives.  By that time, we had attended Interhashes in Kuala Lumpur [1980] and Jakarta [1982]."  They wasted no time in getting a new hash clubs started in Prague, setting their first trail on 24 Oct 1984.  Those early trails were often prelayed, and ended at hashers homes.  Fantum also mentioned that "Glenn Johnson and his wife Karen were our neighbors and fellow staff members at ISP.  They were new to the concept of Hash but were instant converts." 

I was curious as to how difficult it may have been to start a hash behind the Iron Curtin, so when asked about it, Fantum told me that "Starting the Hash was relatively easy.  Due to restrictions of the time, only non-Czechs could join, but we had quite a number of foreigners who were eager for physical and social activity.  We did have one Czech, Eva Parun, PE teacher at ISP, who could join us because she had a foreign (New Zealand) passport."  The Prague H3 has been hampered due to COVID, and has been in hibernation for several months, but you can see more on their website.  []   

The next hash club to from was the Prague Once in a Blue Moon H3, on 25 Aug 2002.  Founded by Irena 'Bouncing Czech' Brichta, who added this new club while also hashing with the Prague H3, but unfortunately is no longer active.  More recently, the Brno H3 was founded by Damien 'Sloppy Stool' Smethurst on 16 February 2019, and is still active.  Sloppy was the chairman of the recent EUROHASH held in Prague in August 2021, where over 450 attendees gathered for some great hashing and enjoyment.  I found the countryside to be very much like Germany, with numerous trails throughout the forested areas, with rolling hills and amazing views that were open to access for running, hiking, and biking.

As a side note, Slovakia also has had one hash club, the Bratislava H3, that was founded by Matt 'Groin' Erickson on 12 Aug 1994.  Their runs in recent years have been sporadic, and often in conjunction with the Vindobona H3 out of Austria.  The last recorded trail I could find on their Facebook page was trail #342 on 9 September 2018.

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

On on!