The Recollections of a Ramblin' Kiwi
I've been working the last two weeks in Vaasa, but got finished on Friday, so a trip to Helsinki was mandatory. I flew down and got to the hotel. There were a few other out-of-towners staying there. There's a small delegation from Stockholm as well, Clark Kent, standing ovation and Zebra.
I guess they came over on the ferry and had a few beers there, then a few more once they got into town. They were pretty far gone by the time they got here. So here we all are, waiting at the hotel to be picked up and taken to the run. The transportation doesn't arrive and we're told that we have to catch a bus instead. Right about that point Zebra decides to have a fit and can barely make it out of the hotel lobby. The others have already walked down the street to the bus stop, and here am I trying to get a very spaced out Zebra along the street.
Did I mention it was also pouring rain? Anyway I got Zebra as far as the bus stop and said it might actually be a good idea to get him back to the hotel. This wasn't easy as by now he was falling over. CK was leading him back and he suddenly totally collapsed, pulling CK down with him. CK hits his head on some steps, which opens a large wound bleeding profusely. So we're back in the hotel lobby, soaking wet, Zebra still falling over, and CK spilling blood everywhere.
So we're not even on the run yet and two thirds of the Stockholm delegation is out of action. Fortunately no major injuries, and CK turned up later in the evening after putting Zebra to bed.
Fridays run was about 7k, and very unpleasant. It wasn't actually cold, but it was raining and there was a gale blowing, which made for pretty non ideal running conditions especially since the flour was getting washed away. I hoped this wasn't an omen for the weekend, but since it was snowing when I left Vaasa, I had my doubts. Helsinki are reasonably serious runners, not competitive, but they set long trails.
The run was set from the local police cottage as they described it - down by the water, with the sauna right on the waters edge. After the stragglers made it back we had the circle and all the visitors had to introduce themselves and do down-downs. There were six from Moscow and five from St Petersburg - they had driven here. There was one from Germany, Mr X from Britain, who was sharing the hotel room with me and myself. One token Swede as well, because the rest of the party was incapacitated. There was also a Finnish girl - Drunk & Desperate - who claimed to be from the Sydney Australia Harriettes, where she started running - but that didn't fool anyone. She got a downdown.
By this time everyone was getting pretty cold and were in a hurry to sing the hash hymn and get into the sauna. Helsinki have a rule - no pocket billiards or finger condoms in the circle - you have to have your hands exposed to the elements. Several violators were fined.
So we at last got to warm up and clean up, then went and had some dinner and more beers. Clark Kent turns up after all the food is gone and immediately gets given an upside-down down down. He got picked up and held upside down and force fed beer. Click on photo to get a full sized pigture!
The travel arrangements back to the hotel are more organized and we get there and headed straight for the bar for some more beers. After that bar closed, Mr X went out for a few more drinks.
So it was a pretty slow start next day, fortunately they were still serving breakfast at 10:30. The main run was from Solvalla, which is a sports institute/hotel about 25k out of town. We were collected later in the morning and driven to the venue, which was on a small lake in what looked like pretty good running country.
When we check in we get a big bag of goodies: two T-Shirts (999 and 1000), coffee mug, six-pack beer chiller, pens, ice-scrapers, first aid stuff, scarf, warm hat, cap, tote-bag, key-ring and other assorted odds and ends. HHHH have been active in getting sponsorship for the event, lots of donated stuff.
The beer for the event is Koff, which is short for Synbrekoff or something like that, which sounds Russian but is Finnish beer. Not a bad brew, but I prefer Lapin Kulta myself. However, Koff are sponsors, so it's their beers today. We also have Koff caps and the entire pack wears these on the main run.
It's a 12k marathon, all through the woods. Lots of shiggy and water crossings. No beer stop either, and its actually turned out to be a reasonably warm day: the sun was shining when we got there. So we have some pretty hot hashers at the end of the run, glad for some ice cold Koff. Into the sauna and a few brave souls even go for a swim in the lake. It was observed as one male hasher was emerging from the lake that Finnish men are the only ones whose balls drop over a thousand times before they're even out of their teens.
After a big dinner the festivities start - karaoke, various songs and skits and drinking races. Two teams from Helsinki, one from St Petersburg, one from Moscow, and the Rest of the World. Me, Mr X, Zebra and CK. We lost to Moscow in the first round, Basher should have been there because we were winning until CK poured most of his beer over himself.
After things began to slow down a few hardy individuals decided that a bonfire by the lake would be a good idea, so we tracked down a supply of wood and collected the few remaining beers and a bottle of rum that Mr X had brought. When I left at about 2.00 they were still going strong. Three West London hashers turned up very late, they spent all day pubcrawling around Helsinki instead of going on the run.
Next morning one of these guys wakes up face down in the sauna, and finds that he's missing his bag, containing wallet, passport and airline tickets. He's only got hazy memories about the day before and has no idea where it could be. An hour of desperate searching and there's still no sign.
Fortunately it had been found, halfway up the hill from the lake. There was some plan on withholding it until the closing ceremony, but it was decided that was too cruel. He did get a double downdown, and the girl who returned it got one too, for taking pity on him.
The hangover run left at 11:00 and somewhat less than half of yesterdays pack were in evidence. The hares had taken sympathy on us and had cut the run down to 7k, and to make it even easier the run just followed the main run, shortcutted to drop 5k off the trail.
This meant a minimum amount of checking, however at one check no one could remember which way the trail had gone the day before and we had to check all over again. Eventually we found the old trail and made it back. There was one long hill just before the end that nearly did in a few suffering individuals, but everyone made it back at last.
A fairly subdued crowd appeared for the circle, including Mr X, who'd only just woken. Very little enthusiasm was shown in singing the hash hymn. Anyway it was time to go home.