Santa gives reindeer a break with charity hash run
200 members of hasher club follow trails for a good cause - and a beer
With his paunch and appetite for mince pies, Santa Claus may be an unlikely candidate for vigorous exercise.
But that didn't stop some of the city's most enthusiastic runners dressing in his familiar red garb as they raised thousands of dollars for charity.
Some 200 members of the city's 13 Hash House Harriers clubs headed to the hills on Sunday dressed as Santa, his wife or his little helpers in the annual festive hash for Operation Santa Claus.
Led by the Wan Chai club, this year's event raised some HK$75,000 for Operation Santa, the annual festive fundraising drive run by the South China Morning Post and RTHK. That included HK$25,000 raised by a "12 Hashes of Christmas" group who ran 11 trails in 11 days before joining Sunday's run, and received support from Bekk, an international diving company.
Hashing is based on the old English game of paper chase, or hare and hounds. One runner, the "hare", heads out first to mark a trail to be followed by the pack of "hounds". Typically, the runs serve to work up a thirst for the hashers, for whom the fun is as much in socialising over a beer as in running.
Three trails of varying difficulties were set to suit runners of all abilities. Experienced athletes chased a brisk 6km or a harder 7km trail from Quarry Bay Park up to Braemar Hill and back, with the toughest heading to a triangulation station beyond. Other runners headed along the promenade to Shau Kei Wan for 4km.
Course organisers laid the trail to the hills with arrows and flowers. In a bid to outwit the fastest in the pack, some trails led to dead ends.
"You might be the fastest guy, but you might not finish first," said Mark Hope, who helped set the route.
"The thing about hashing is no matter how fast you are, the way it works is the fast guys do all the hard work to find the right trail, and the slow ones keep up."
Hope said the course was designed not to be "too tough on the knees" but to "have a run, then a beer afterwards".
Regular hasher Clive Franks, 60, a retired civil servant said he enjoyed the "camaraderie" and being able to raise money.
"You can walk, you can run, but some people don't do anything and will stay behind and drink beer," he said.
Since the first Operation Santa more than 20 years ago, the Hong Kong-based Hash House Harriers clubs have taken it in turns to organise a Christmas charity run.
How you can give
- Donate online by credit card at osc.scmp.com/donate
- Donate at an ATM or any branch of HSBC (account number 502-676299-001 for SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus)
- You can donate with a cheque payable to "SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus" and mail it to: Operation Santa Claus, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po, New Territories.
- Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. If you would like a tax receipt, please send the completed donation form and original bank receipt to the address above.