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Sierra Leone Marathon 2014

Running with the HASH club

I went on my first run, through Freetown, with Nick, Ben and Mark, but this was not just any run! We joined a club called the House Harriers, or HASH, a drinking club with a running problem,  who have been going since 1987, mixing expats and Freetownians alike.

 

Now let your imagination take you -picture a group of 60 joggers, combine this with a Hansel and Gretel concept and a rugby team initiation ceremony, The 'Hares' are released 10 minutes before the rest of the group, who have to try and catch them, we follow of trail of paper shavings… be careful not to follow the wrong route - or the running up a steep Freetownian street will be wasted. We weaved in and out of hectic traffic, through peoples yards, hurdling chickens, rubbish, streams and sewers. It was one unbelievable way to see the real thing… eye opening and not allowing you to escape the fact that the poverty is rife and real.

 

Coming to the end of the race the rain starts to fall, welcome because the heat,  humidity, exertion, and the days sunburn had left me somewhat crimson . We convene in the courtyard where announcements and initiations begin, Led by the Grand Leader… each person wielding a Star beer 'no one ever tastes the same' in a large circle - call to the Hares, down drinks while we chant the ritual tune, then, a call to the virgins (1st time Hash runners) - what's your name, why are you here, who made you come and are you available? Having answered those questions with cheers around the group - the 5 of us virgins down our beer to chanting.

 

Sound odd? In the rain, in the dark, in Freetown… we then sing Swing Low Sweet Chariot, with actions! A couple more beers some rice and chicken stew. Then realisation… what just happened!?

 

Tomorrow to Makeni...

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