R U? Looking! I can't see a thing in this bloody blizzard and all the markers have been covered in a thick layer of snow already. My legs are sore and my face is numb from the icy wind and the stinging snow. Icicles are growing from my eyelashes and I can't feel my fingers anymore. What am I doing? Only a madman would go out running in this weather! Or a hasher? I guess that's me… Did I hear an on-on? Yes, on-on called! Gotta keep running...
It was a white and stormy day when Absolut H3 Run #582 was scheduled to take off. At -12° C, it wasn't the coldest run ever, but it was definitely cold and windy enough and had been snowing heavily for the past several days. There were massive traffic problems all over Stockholm and much of the municipal transit system had come to a standstill. The Swedish National Weather Service has issued warnings urging people to stay at home. So what do we do? We go hashing, of course! After all, it is the second Saturday since the last Absolut Hash, so it is time to run, come rain or shine… or snow… lots of snow…
Your's truly had been lucky enough to catch a pendeltåg that actually was running. I figured it would be a late start as most hashers would be stuck in traffic, but as I arrived to the starting point in Spånga right at the two o'clock mark, I was surprised to see that most of the usual culprits already were assembled and ready to greet me with snowballs thrown from the balcony of SillyCon Feet's old flat. How did they get there so early? These are no ordinary half-minds!
Luckily, the proper world order was eventually restored when the start got delayed because we had to wait for Coming Slowly & Standing Ovation. Their excuse that they were so late: The train had left on time! Now, there's a hasher if there ever was one.
When the call finally came to get ready, everybody gathered outside waiting, then inside to warm up, then back outside waiting again, then inside again… The wait and the cold took its toll on many a hasher's frozen brain. One hasher in particular (JDG) got so desperate that the threw himself face down in a snow drift several times in an apparent attempt to suffocate himself and end his misery. He himself claimed that he was just having fun, but that just shows how far off the deep end he had gone.
Co-hares Wet One and SillyCon Feet gave the chalk talk and the shivering pack finally took off at 14:40 in a generally north-westerly kind of way, looking for blobs of pink snow. Runners and skiers tried their best to not step on each others toes / ski tips, but only with moderate success. By this time, all the marks had already had been covered by a thick layer of fresh snow, so at first we mostly followed hare Wet One as she dumped new blobs of pink powder on our way. But as the pack got its speed up, we soon started relying on our inner hashing sense to intuit the true trail instead, somewhat (mis)guided by the hare shouting directions from behind as well.
We moved swiftly forward down Avestagatan, only slightly confused by a freshly drawn circle in the snow by a crosswalk that turned out to drawn by a baby carriage instead of a hare. On-on! About the same time, we also had our first casualty: "Hasher down!" That was Violence who had fallen over on her skies in a spectacular way -- on flat ground no less -- thus proving her standing [sic] in the group.
After a relatively short run, we reached our first Hold by a little hill. Here, we waited in the bitterly freezing wind while the rest of the pack assembled. Jungle Dick George and yours truly tried to seek refuge behind a big pine tree, but it was all in vane. Then SillyCon Feet arrived and started distributing "butt flaps" (stjärtlappar), which quickly were put to good use at the nearby hill. Great speeds were achieved by many a snow-crazy hasher and special points go to Laid Bird & Drag Queen who decided to go down leashed together. But the all-time winner was Termite who by his bare might (mite?) created a distance record few others were able to even come close to!
Continuing from the Hold, the walkers were joined by infiltrator Big Tasty who set off to confuse and disrupt them by adding superfluous checks and discouraging markers like "DN -- 5 km". Oh, the poor sods! The runners & skiers continued by plowing through the thick snow clad hills instead. FRB John Cleese quickly took the lead -- and that was on skis and uphill! As we approached Älvkvarnsvägen, Jungle Dick George got another snow crazed attack and went belly jumping into the white fluffy stuff again. When he came back up, he looked like the abominable snow man with big wads of icy-cold snow stuck to his face.
It was a very white-faced and cold half-pack that finally made it down to the crossing of Avestagatan & Farstagatan about an hour into the run. As the hares together with the rest of the pack seemed to have taken a shortcut earlier, we stood there for a while perplexed about our continued direction. Eventually, the bitter cold and freezing snow made our feet move again and we headed down Fagerstagatan in search for faint fragments of pink in the icy sea of white fluff that surrounded us all.
As we arrived to Finspångsgatan, our spirits were raised as splotches of pink greeted us and we raced down the street… But little did we know that we had just found the returning part of the trail and were heading down in the opposite direction. Oops! It wasn't until we discovered the splashes of sawdust that we previously had been told to ignore until the hare would give his signal that we realized our error. But being the clever hashers that we are, we headed back in the opposite direction of the sawdust and were eventually met by one of the hares, who guided us back to the rest of the pack as they crossed the big bridge across the train tracks over to Tenstaleden.
Since the whole pack was frozen stiff by now, hare SillyCon Feet graciously let us be led straight to the impending drink stop by yet another sled hill. Here, your faithful yet too-lightly dressed Hash Recorder made the mistake of actually trying out one off the "butt patches" -- only to get got sprayed with snow inside & out during his slide! If I wasn't freezing enough before, I sure was afterwards! What's worse, my fingers had frozen so much that I couldn't get the screw corks off the drink stop's bottles. Fortunately, better dressed and less stiff hashers came to the rescue.
At the drink stop, Big Tasty went after the Vana Tallinn like a dog after water. And that despite having finished off Laid Bird's private stash the night before! Many drinks of questionable sources were abundant, although sadly none heated. Still, alcohol carries plenty of energy in itself and a shot of 40% Unicum down your throat can make miracles, especially in the desire to keep going and head back to the on-inn.
Propelled by visions of crackling fires and heated radiators, your's truly found himself running with FRBs Jungle Dick George & Laid Bird / Drag Queen on the last stretch home. It's amazing what the proper motivation can do to a pair of stiff, cold, tired legs! While the more routined runners kept to the road, I just barged down a straight line across yards and fences until I finally reached the end. I'm not sure which strategy was the best, but at least mine earned me a down-down later.
We finally arrived back the world of creature comforts about two hours after we had headed out. Cold, tired, and worn, but quite satisfied with an excellent day out in the wild, white yonder!
A prolonged circle followed where among other things:
- The RAs were blamed for the weather -- and for not being there. (Malibog took their place leading the circle instead.)
- Violence presented a knee-long black sock that she had accidentally brought with her from a previous hash and asked if anyone knew who it belonged to. Since nobody seemed to recognize it, Jungle Dick George volunteered to adopt it. Unfortunately, his poor still-frozen mind appeared to mistake it for a giant condom, because he promptly stuck his middle name in it and displayed it proudly to the circle, thus coining the expression cock-a-sock (and being punished with a down-down -- drunk through the sock!)
- Just Ingela earned her hash name "Fishy Hooker" because she had been the only one that followed a fishhook-shaped run-around-the-pack sign earlier. A proper naming ceremony followed with copious amounts of flower and beer included and our newest member became reborn in all her icky, sticky glory. Welcome, Fishy Hooker!
- Jungle Dick George earned the nickname "Baby Dick" for laughing viciously when Laid Bird & Drag Queen accidentally had scared the bejesus out a baby in a carriage when running past them earlier.
- Wet One was acknowledged for being keen to ensure that Laid Bird's boobs didn't freeze. Her caring public service was punished with a down-down.
- People who should have known better showed up in (relatively) new shoes -- and were rightfully punished with down-downs as well.
- Down-downs were also awarded to Pippi Longcocking & Just Sarah, who both showed up in orange & green socks, matching each other, but not each of their respective feet.
Finally, the circle was closed and we were able to enjoy Just Peter's delicious "snittar" and fish soup. Together with yet more drinks, of course. A proper party ensued that lasted long after this Hash Trash Recorder had left. (Which probably was good thing for the people still present. ;))