BMPH3 guidelines for setting successful trails

1. Identify a suitable starting venue 

What is a suitable starting venue ?

Somewhere with reasonable parking facilities, preferably close to parks and woods, which are always to be preferred to town runs although the occasional town run should not be excluded. There will also need to be somewhere suitable for the circle close by.

Make sure that the same area was not used recently as you may well find an old trail, which will cause confusion. In any event it is best to keep away from an area where we have run recently.

2. Inform Hash Lash

Inform Hash Lash by email of the precise starting venue in good time (at the latest 1 week before the run itself), giving clear instructions for reaching it by car and public transport so that the details can be put in the weekly trail mail and on the website.

If the run is outside Brussels give detailed directions on how to get there by car.

Remember to mention if the starting point is close to a metro/bus/train station for those travelling by public transport.

3. Hares

It is much more fun if you have more than one hare as it is easier and quicker to set the trail and also means that during the run itself one of you can stay at or near the back of the pack to sweep up while the other one stays nearer the middle or the front. Setting a run as a solo hare should only ever be done by an experienced hare.

You can of course have 3 or even 4 hares but 2 is usually enough. Having 3 or 4 hares is a good idea for a run where you are expecting a big pack.

4. Recceing the trail

It is essential to recce the trail if you do not know the area. That means going round the trail and deciding where it will go in advance of the run, that is to say not on the same day.

It is possible to lay a trail in a familiar area on the day itself as long as you allow enough time.

The most important decision to make in recceing a trail is which direction you will take from the start (the out trail) and how you will return to the start (the in trail). The two should be distinct.

5. Before setting the trail

Bear in mind the following :

It is a good idea for each of the hares to have a photocopy of a map of the area with them when setting the trail.

You will need a minimum of around six kilos or bags of flour to lay the trail. Note that mixing white flour with coloured builder's chalk will avoid you getting arrested for spreading anthrax or rat poison, especially in town. Pavement chalk can also work but won't survive humidity.

Allow two hours to set a one hour trail although less time will be needed if you run at above average speed. Don't use a bike (losing track of distance)!

The ideal length for a regular run is between one hour and an hour and a quarter including one drink or beer stop. The only exception to this would be for a run with lots of visitors where there are short cuts provided for the back runners to enable them to avoid having to do part of the trail.

Forest trails and soft paths are hasher-friendly, tarmac roads NOT.

6. Setting the trail

For BMPH3 trails the flour is laid on the left. The only exception to this is when for reasons of safety it has to be put on a very occasional basis on the right. It is not reasonable to announce at the start that the run has been set in some other way as any latecomers will have difficulty and the system of putting flour on the left works. It is helpful for latecomers to put an arrow of flour in the direction in which the trail goes from the start.

The signs used in setting the trail are a circle (an O) for a check, a cross (an X) for a false trail or check back, a circle with a line through it for a ladies’ check and ‘ON INN’ to indicate that the trail is coming to an end. You may also indicate ‘BN’ when you are close to the beer stop.

You should lay flour about every 20 metres or so.

7. Checks

From a check, you need to find two blobs to be on trail, that means that when checking from a check the pack should hear ‘checking one’ when one blob is found and ‘on on’ when a second blob is found. It is possible to put just one blob and nothing more but this is to be avoided as far as possible as it is likely to lead to people getting lost and it is much better to have false trails marked with an X and one true trail.

8. False trails from checks

The first two marks leading to the false trails from checks should be closer to the checkmark than the true trail so that the false trails are found and run before the true trail. It is not a good idea to put the false trails too near the check as front runners will find them more quickly and the backmarkers will have less of a rest. The objective of false trails is to keep the pack together and to give the front runners more to do and allow the backmarkers to catch up at their own pace.

There is no rule as to the number of blobs to be marked before you put the X mark down to indicate a false trail but the further you go the more likely you are to keep the pack together. A maximum of about ten blobs is about right. You can of course have more than one false trail from a check.

It is essential that the X is clearly marked so that the pack sees it. Otherwise the pack will carry straight on. In woods and parks it is best to put the X mark behind a tree or in such a way that the first hasher only sees the X when he or she gets there rather than from some distance away. Once the true trail has been found it is a good idea to mark the direction in which the true trail goes from the check.

9. False trails not from checks

If you have recently been at a check and you see an X indicating a false trail you should return to the recent checkmark and check in other directions. If you are well away from the most recent check and find an X then you have to turn round and go back along the trail already covered to find other directions in which the trail might have gone. This is most frequently the last change of direction but not exclusively.

10. Ladies’ checks

Ladies’ checks may only be done by harriettes so the non-harriettes may not do the check and have to wait until the harriettes find the trail. (Some non-harriettes find it impossible to resist the temptation to do the check themselves but they are always found out and always rewarded in the same time honoured way). This is a device used to slow the front runners down but it does not work if there are front running harriettes.

11. The beer stop

This should occur close to the end (15' walk) of the run. While the Beer Meister is responsible for getting the beer to the start of the run, the hares are responsible for the beer stop. This means identifying a suitable location where a car can be safely and legally parked and indicating for the pack by means of the sign ‘BS’ where it is.

Alternatively, on an exceptional basis (costs!), the beer stop can be at a bar with cash paid on the day by Hash Cash with whom the hares will have made a prior arrangement. Do make sure that the bar will be open and is happy to accept our custom.

12. Short cuts for back markers or chicken and bull trails

All the guidance up to now has been on the basis of a trail where everyone does the whole trail. In practice this happens less and less as there is a major difference in the speeds at which different people run. It is possible but not very easy to keep the pack continuously coming back together again by setting one single trail with many false trails. However, in practice it has become very common for short cuts or even separate trails for part of the run to be laid by hares to keep the pack together.

Short cuts

Identify a point (for example a loop) from which the back markers can take a short cut (to be indicated to them by the hare) and avoid part of the trail. This short cut is not marked and the rest of the pack continues to follow the marked trail and eventually the 2 parts of the pack come back together again.

Chicken and Bull trails

This means that, rather than a short cut as above, at a certain point the trail splits into 2 different marked trails, usually before merging again. It needs to be made clear to the pack at the start of the run that there is a C for chickens and therefore the shorter trail and a B for bulls and therefore a longer trail. This is probably the best way of keeping the pack together but it cannot be done easily with only one hare and underlines the usefulness of having more than one hare.

13. A to B runs

These may only be done by prior arrangement with mismanagement as they pose considerable logistical problems. You start and finish in different places.

14. Live hare runs

They may be done in an emergency as there have been no volunteers to be hares and the hares are nominated on the day or the hares may for other reasons such as lack of time due to unforeseen circumstances not been able to set the run prior to the arrival of the pack. Experienced live hares may also want to spice up things a bit once in a while. Remember live trails are NOT the norm on BMPH3.

Please prepare a bottle of flour or some chalk for someone to mark checks and other confusing intersections, so the visitors or slower runners do not get lost. Even the best laid trails have pitfalls for the front runners which are not meant for the slower runners. Be ready to set your beer stop a bit early so that we can send you away before the pack becomes impatient and does not give you the allotted time. In general, it is a good idea that you inform Hash Lash if you are going live so Mismanagement can assist you on sweeper and beer logistics.

15. Points to remember

Bring enough flour.

Allow yourself enough time to set the trail.

Keep the in trail and the out trail separate otherwise the run will not be successful.

16. The On Inn

After the trail and the circle the pack adjourns to a bar/café/restaurant to have something to eat and drink.

Find such an establishment, preferably within walking distance to the start of the run. Make sure it is open and happy to have us and serves food and beer at reasonable prices. Let them know that we are coming. Some places will want to know how many people are coming. It is of course impossible to say for sure but around 10-15 should be OK. Take advice from Hash Lash or other mismanagement or experienced hashers on places we have used in the past.

[original version produced by Mick Mac for the very first BMPH3 website, updated by Yark Sucker and Higgins in November 2015]

in memoriam Cyberflasher 1963-2015

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