Now that I have had a couple of weeks to settle into life in Malawi, I think I have also finally figured out the running here. As I have found with various travels, there is a scouting out process that needs to happen when you are in a new place to figure out where the best places to run are, who you can/ should run with, traditional customs of dress, and anything you should avoid while still trying to maintain that runners high. Experience has taught me that all you need is to seek out and find just one coordinated group run, and the connections you will make with that encounter will most surely lead you to more running adventures. So my mission was simple: find a running club and the rest will start falling into place.
Within the first few days here in Blantyre, I had located a chapter of the Hash House Harriers. For those that are unaware, the HHH is an international, non-competitive running group/ social club (www.gthhh.com). You can find a HHH group in over 185 countries, mostly made up of ex-pats or passing travelers like me looking for a fun group to run with. The style of running for the HHH involves a trail set by the Hare, where you (and the rest of the Hounds) follow specific signs throughout the run, complete with false trails and Hash Halts (for refreshments along the way). It’s a great format to keep all ability levels together throughout the run. The Blantyre HHH meets Monday nights, and so last week I attended my first ever hash.
I have known about the hash style running ever since cross country camp, but to be part of an established group really added another dimension. Re-learning the signs and signals was great fun, and the route we were taken on by the Hare was absolutely breathtaking. We ended up running on a mix of tar road and single track, winding through a huge tall grass field with views of the sun setting over the mountains surrounding us with deep reds and purples as the evening progressed. Each hash ends with a social hour at the Hare’s house, complete with singing, establishing the location of the next run, and of course the initiation of all newbies (that would be me). To prove your worth, you must chug a beer and anything you can’t manage to drink in one go must be poured over your head. Needless to say I did my Brewer name proud, and earned the respect of my new running mates by keeping my head quite dry 🙂
Looking forward to more adventures with this club and will keep posting on the interesting quirks of running here in Malawi 🙂