[The Chronicle, August 25, 1999]

Hashing for dollars
Annual Red Dress Run combines charity, fun

   To many, the idea of a group of people getting together to raise money for cancer research by holding a walking or running event is fairly common.
   Last Sunday's run, organized by the Montreal Hash House Harriers, was anything but.
   Traditional jogging and running garb was replaced by red sun dresses, frocks, miniskirts and even translucent unmentionables.
   No, the third annual Red Dress Charity Run was not a salute to drag queens, but a light-hearted way for a group of fun-loving running enthusiasts to raise money for research at the Royal Victoria Hospital's Cedar Cancer Institute.
   Hashing has its roots in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, and is a re-creation of old fox-and-hound-style chases.  The difference with hashing is that, instead of foxes and hounds, one member of the group traces and marks a course to confuse, challenge and entertain the participants as they search for the next goal or clue that gets them closer to the refreshment stations.
   These stations, rather than offering the usual water and sports drinks, present runners with frosty beers for the adults and non-alcoholic drinks for those participants under 18 and designated drivers.
   "The goal of the false trails and shortcuts is to keep the pack of runners as close to each other as possible," explained Grand Master Hash Ian Hepher, who set Sunday's course.  "The run is more of social event than a sporting event."
   Starting in front of Moe's Deli & Bar on Sources Boulevard (Moe's is in fact on St. Jean Blvd - Ed.) in Pointe Claire -- one of the event's many sponsors and the Montreal club's official Hash House -- the group of 45 runners set out at 1:30pm on a seven-kilometer course that led them in circles, on to false trails and even shortcuts, all in the name of having fun and consuming vital fluids at Marlowe's restaurant, the event's official refreshment station.
   Last year's Red Dress Run raised $2,500, and event organizers hoped to double that with this year's run, with the financial support of corporate sponsors such as Moe's and Brasserie McAuslan, combined with donations of items sold at the 'Auction of Silly Things' held at the celebration after the event.

   Though this year's attendance was not as large as the record-setting 75 of last year's run, organizers remained confident of their financial goals, and the spirit of the run remained as silly as ever.  Reflecting this silliness, one participant ran in a knitted cotton summer dress and floppy red hat, all accessorized with a Canadian-flag cape, preferring only to be called 'Captain Canada.'

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   Though the Red Dress Run is the club's only annual charity event, weekly hashes are held in the Montreal area throughout the year.  None of the runs are competitions, stressed hasher Shiela Davidson.
   "I hate just pounding the pavement, but I really enjoy hashing.  It doesn't matter how fast you go," she said.  "In fact, winning is frowned upon, and usually punished with having to chug a lot of beer."   

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