Colourful symbols began appearing on sidewalks throughout town last Wednesday night as preparations took place for an unusual event.
The pink or white symbols, some in the form of flowers, were tracking markers for the Red Deer Hash House Harriers.
In the past they’ve sparked controversy about their meaning and whether or not it was graffiti artists at work.
Sylvan resident Greg Brentnall assured that’s not the case. The markers are made with flour so that in the first rain they just wash away — or they’re blown away by the wind. But not before they’ve been used for an interesting race around the community.
The Red Deer organization is part of an international movement based on the English game Hares and Hounds.
The hares go out and set the trail then the dollops are followed by the runners. A circle with a dot in the middle means the hare has ended the trail and runners (or walkers) have to start somewhere else. They have to look to see where the trail starts again, said Brenda Bond.
The purpose of trail changes is so slower people have a chance to catch up to the first runners. The new trail starts somewhere within 100 metres.
Once the new trail has been spotted, those participating call Ôon’ to indicate the direction.
“Sometimes we’re sneaky,” said Bond. “We’ll set a trail in a certain direction then put an Ôx’. That’s called a false trail. Runners have to run back to the trail and go somewhere else.
Participants last Thursday night, not only ran or walked the trail. They also stopped at Chief’s Pub & Eatery for a shooter. Then they swam out to a boat moored just off the pier.
Red Deer Hash House Harriers participate in a run every Thursday, rain or shine, snow or sleet. Each of the members takes a turn at setting the trail. Last week’s trail was the work of Brentnall, Bond and Denise Leeder. The club has about 40 active members and gets 20-30 at most runs.
“It all takes time, being the hare,” said Brentnall. “It’s up to the hare to decide where the run is.” That’s the reason they brought it to Sylvan Lake.
The trio laughed, they’re known as “the drinking club with a running problem”.
They’re part of the international Hash House Hare movement (abbreviated to HHH or H3). Wikipedia describes them as “non-competitive running social clubs”.
The objectives, as recorded on a club registration card dated 1950, are to promote physical fitness among members, to get rid of weekend hangovers, to acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer and to persuade older members that they are not as old as they feel.
At present there are almost 2,000 chapters in all parts of the world.