In A Nutshell
The Shanghai Hash House Harriers (H3) call themselves "a drinking club with a running problem", and any brief intro to their ceremonies and initiations, their expletive-laced songs, might make them sound like a cult. But really they are just a group of really nice people who love to run, and love beer.
Every Sunday at 2.30pm, typhoon or blazing heat, H3 does a walk / run in a new Shanghai location. Two "Hares" get a head start to mark the trail. At 3pm, the Hashers -- on average a pack of 20-40 runners -- chase them down, following the Hares' chalk markings on post lamps and sidewalks for a 5-8k walk or 8-13k run. The route always circles back to the starting place.
Then they have circle time, but not like in kindergarten. The hashers stand together, bring out crates of beer, and that week's Grand Master asks, "What did you think of today's run?" The hashers complain about a terrible route, then in unison declare, "It was the best hash ever". First-timers are immediately welcomed in to introduce themselves. Circle time continues with plenty of offensive songs and excuses to get everyone to chug beer out of a bucket. Excuses can range from, "That person stopped to smell the trash," to, "I'm Taiwanese, so all Taiwanese drink." This lasts for roughly an hour, but after the first 15 minutes, many are buzzing and dripping with beer. It's very "come as you are", all inclusive good vibes.
The first Hash club started in 1938 in Malaysia, when a group of British colonial officers began meeting for Monday runs to make up for weekend partying. The run was fashioned in the style of hounds chasing hares, and they'd end the night with beer and cigs. After World War II, the runs saw a revival in Singapore, and spread through expat communities in Asia. Now, it is a completely global social club with local chapters in almost every major city.
Shanghai has four Hash clubs doing weekly or bimonthly runs: The Distinguished Overseas Gentlemen of Shanghai (D.O.G.S.), Posh Hash House Harriets, Drunken Dragon Hash House Harriers (D2H3), and the Hash House Harriers (H3). The way the community works is that once you're a Hasher in one club, you're a Hasher everywhere, in any city. If you're traveling or move to a new city, you already know that you've got a group of people ready to welcome you in.
The Shanghai Hash House Harriers go on a run every single Sunday, and have for over 20 years. Because of frequent stops, they say "anybody can do the run" -- at least those in decent shape -- even for runs over 10k. A run usually takes an hour and a half, with check points for everyone to catch up, take a breath, and find the next mark, or have the occasional beer at an Alldays.
People who don't regularly train for long distance running really can do this, and the non-competitive, casual atmosphere genuinely makes it a fun run. A Hasher will make sure stragglers don't get lost if they fall behind. While they do call each other "fucking assholes", they mean it with love, and watch out for their own.
A mix of expats and locals from age 17-70 of many nationalities, but most are expats in their late 20s -- outgoing people with a high tolerance for profanity. Someone who won't be offended with the song, "Incest Time in Texas," sung to the melody of Yellow Rose of Texas. If this makes you uncomfortable, just chug your Tsingtao until it feels okay...
When / Where They Run
Every week, H3 runs through a different path, exploring back alleyways and neighborhoods on the edges of Shanghai. On the run I tried, we went through Longhua Memorial Park, a truly serene park with monuments of communist revolutionaries. Very cool looking revolution-era statues and one with an everlasting flame. Then we wound through some back-alleys, and came back around to our starting point near Shanghai Indoor Stadium.
What Else They Do
Every year they throw large themed runs, like the Red Dress Run, Christmas Run, Chinese New Year Run, etc. You might have seen them running through Yongkang Lu from time to time in costumes. There's also an annual All China Hash, in which hash clubs from all over China and beyond fly in for a huge run. The 2015 All China Hash just happened in May, but they're planning for up to 2017 already. They also do some charity work.
A run with free-flow beer is 50rmb. Nobody is going to the force beer drinking, though, except maybe during circle time. [Run] virgins are then the first to drink. After an hour-ish of beer chugging in the circle, they eat a big Chinese dinner together (with more beer). For the run, beer and dinner, it's 100rmb.
To receive weekly updates about the next run's location, you can follow their WeChat (ID:SH_hash). For any other questions you can reach out to email@example.com. They always post run details on their website, too.