(Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)

By Sally Turkovich

Pittsburgh is known for its professional sports teams but there are also very active amateur sports groups. It’s also known for its beer drinkers. One of the most colorful and welcoming is a group that combines them both called the Pittsburgh Hash House Harriers. Billing itself as a social drinking club with a running problem, Pittsburgh’s official Hashing club is a perfect group to get involved in if you’re into running but don’t plan on training for the Pittsburgh Marathon any time soon.

Dating back to the early 1900’s, Hashing has been around long enough to gain some serious momentum as an international phenomenon.

(Photo Credit: Sally Turkovich)

Hashing involves running along a cryptic trail, marked with environmentally friendly flour arrows, dots and X’s, etched by that day’s event organizer or “hare” that is discovered by trial and error by the runners or “hashers.” This type of trail running, paired with the sometimes difficult terrain in Pittsburgh’s city parks slows things down and makes the whole event more of a social event than a competitive one.

The cryptic trails keep the group together since runners in the lead often find themselves running down a false trail, forcing them to double back and regroup to try to find the real trail.

During the trail run that day, there will be beer, water and snack stops at various places to keep the Hashers motivated along the way.

Don’t be scared away by the thought of running. Walkers are always a welcome part of each event and are encouraged to come along and work their way up to running confidently with the pack.

(Photo Credit: Sally Turkovich)

The cooler temperatures in the fall are the perfect time to check out hashing for the first time while the woods and trails in Pittsburgh are still free from snow and ice. The fall months are packed with events, sometimes three or four Hashes per week, and new members (aptly called “new boots”) are always welcome. Special events like Bashes (Hashes on bicycles) and the infamous Red Dress Run that benefits local charities, when all Hashers run in a red dress, keep the club fresh and fun.

At the end of each Hash, a night out on the town is guaranteed to follow. Hang around for these after parties. There’s singing, there’s dancing and if you stick around long enough you might just find yourself with a Hash Name – a true sign that you have been initiated into the inner circle of the group. All the Pittsburgh Hash House Harriers ask is that you come to Hashes with an open mind and an ID that shows you are of legal drinking age.

Find Pittsburgh Hash House Harriers on Facebook and check out their website at www.pgh-h3.com for all the crazy details about this club and to subscribe to their discussion list for all the latest news about Hashing events.

Sally Turkovich lives in Pittsburgh with her fiancé, Jason and German Shepherd, Zeus. By day she works as an eyewear stylist for an independent eye doctor. By night, she writes a twice-weekly column for Twoday Magazine. Catch up with her there at twodaymag.com