Last May I booked a ticket to Phuket, Thailand. I was 21, I had no understanding of the language, and I was doing it alone. This adventure was for me to get out, see the world, and be somewhere totally different from anywhere that I had been before. But how was I going to run while exploring this new land? I decided that the best way was to join in on a community race or running event while I was in Phuket, and that was the best decision that I could have made.
As I was exploring all the different running opportunities in Phuket, I stumbled across the Hash House Harriers (H3) website for the Phuket H3 team and was instantly intrigued. To learn more, I wrote an email to the Grand Master who told me to meet at a local bar and catch a bus to the running site. I had never participated in an H3 run before, so I had no idea what I was in for.
If you haven’t participated in a H3 run, know that their slogan is “a drinking club with a running problem.” Here’s the basic rundown of a typical Hash House event:
- The hares go out before the run and lay out flour or torn pieces of paper to create a “trail” with many dead ends.
- You run the “trail” and try to find your way to the finish by either keeping up with the front pack or by following a horn-blower.
- At the finish there are beers, politically incorrect songs, and public insults aplenty.
- Fun is had.
That is a simplified explanation of the tomfoolery that is encompassed by a H3 run, but you get the idea.
My H3 experience consisted of running through a river, forging a trail through a rubber plantation and a tropical jungle, and getting caught in a typical Phuket rainstorm…shout-out to my Saucony Peregrines for hanging in there with me. I can’t explain the joy that I felt as I ran with these men and women who so excitedly welcomed me to their fun. When I finished with the front pack I was told that I would be “rewarded,” not realizing that the reward would be beer en masse. Once the remaining runners had finished, “the circle” was called to order and the next round of fun began! First, I was called forward to drink beer cups off the ground without using my hands because it was my first H3 run. While struggling to pick up and drink a cup of beer with only my mouth, I had a bucket of ice and cold water dumped on my head. That was only the first two drinks of the circle’s hour-long hazing ritual, which ended in me receiving an official H3 nickname of “Fish Fingers” (don’t ask).
I could go on, but what I hope you take away from my Phuket H3 experience is that traveling is all about trying new things, and I wouldn’t have met any of the incredible people that I did if I hadn’t gotten out of my comfort zone. This summer, as you plan out your vacations, consider hopping in on a running event to see what the local running scene is like, because I can say from experience that it can be one incredible adventure.
Some of the more vagrant employees here at Running Warehouse have put together collections of our travel running go-to’s, and hopefully they can help as you plan your vacations. Happy running, happy traveling, and happy adventuring!
Sierra balances an overflowing schedule of work, college, and running, and can relate to any 20-something who’s trying to figure out life. Her running is her kind of self-care – and also the small amount of time that she gets to spend with herself every day, coming before all else (except her dog, Butters).