Santa Hash run a charity success
Just like the charity campaign it supports, the Santa Hash fun run has been expanding for a quarter of a century, proving that charity, fun and sport are a good mix.
This year's effort, organised by a group of hill-running, beer-drinking enthusiasts, saw a turnout of more than 150 participants on Sunday, the highest in recent years. It is in its 25th year, coinciding with the same anniversary of Operation Santa Claus (OSC).
"Everyone comes out because it's for charity. It's about running for fun and a bit of drinking," said Mark Hope, who was the "hare" this year - the runner responsible for laying the track with chalk and flour.
OSC raised a record HK$17.5 million last year and is aiming for more this year, which it will pass on to 18 beneficiaries.
Hong Kong's 13 Hash House Harrier clubs each organise weekly runs, and all join together for the Santa Hash. Hashing is similar to the old sport of hare and hounds, where the "hare" lays a trail and for the pack of "hashers" to follw.
Sunday's trail was six kilometres long - seven for those who took a more challenging route - from Aldrich Bay park in Shau Kei Wan, up the hills of Sai Wan Ho and Quarry Bay, and back.
The runners ran in Santa hats and collected Santa figurines along the way which they redeemed for prizes.
Asked of how he felt after the run, John Lane, 76, the most senior "hasher" on Sunday, said: "Fit as a fiddle and ready for a beer." He has been a Hong Kong hash club member since the 1980s.
The youngest participant was four-year-old Kaya Noyes.
Runner Laura Tam pondered why she was one of the few Chinese participants: "Perhaps Hong Kong people are more serious and conventional, and not used to this kind of running. But I enjoyed it."
Hashing veteran Frank Pilkington, 70, summed up the essence of the sport: "Anybody can run in a hash. Nobody cares what you do or where you're from."