Hash 600 – Tavern @ Kemble

27 June 2021MikeKevin
The 600th

Like all great events, Euro 2020 Championship and 2020 Olympics, the greatest hash in the country, Kennet Valley Hash House Harriers, had to postpone their 600th hash until Covid restrictions were lifted which would allow the hash to proceed.

With the various government restrictions put in place from March 22nd 2020 the frequency of our hashes and the number of attendees have had to be adjusted over the last 15 months. By my reckoning we hashers should have been celebrating our 600th hash on Sunday 13th September 2020. Nevertheless with the government lifting all covid restrictions from 21st June, our unrestricted 600th hash was scheduled for 27th June 2021. 

Kevin taking the lead

Come the 14th June the government decided to apply the breaks again on lifting the covid restrictions. A headache for the GOM. All the planning and preparation had been put in place including the ordering of t-shirts to mark the occasion, should we postpone or should we proceed? The GOM decided to proceed with a restricted number of attendees as there was no certainty as to when or if the covid restrictions would be lifted.

With meticulous planning by Keith (GOM) and well laid trail by Mike (GOM Emeritus) our 600th hash went ahead without a hitch.

The day started at The Tavern Inn, Kemble with the great (GOMs) and the good (hashers) arriving at 10:40am to don the new black t-shirts emblazoned with the KVH3 celebratory logo (thanks to Debjit for his technical know how) for the group photograph. I think the paparazzi (Henry) were in attendance I saw some fancy camera on a tripod situated on the pub lawn waiting for us hashers to form some order for the celebratory photos, even the Tavern landlord joined the paparazzi, this event could be great publicity for drumming up more custom!

However, there was some delay with taking the group photo with one of the great’s Maurice somewhat late hurdling across the lawn with Rocky, he quickly changed into his kit pulling on his hash t-shirt like a last minute England sub waiting to get on the pitch. All assembled group photos were taken.

GOMs – Keith, Brian, Maurice, Jeremy, Margaret, Mike

There then was a nice touch when the current and former GOMs Keith, Brian, Maurice, Jeremy, Margaret, Mike and Rocky came together for a photo. I don’t recollect Rocky being a GOM but he managed to be centre stage for the photo!

With the morning formals over Mike gathered us around for the hash briefing. Our trail was to take us to the head of the Thames and for the best part follow the Thames path back to Kemble. The short was 3 miles the long 5 with the short/long divide about one and half miles from the start. Mike had informed us that he had been up from 6:30am to lay the trail and there was plenty of flour put down. Off we set, the speedy ones of like greyhounds out of a trap, the slower ones, you can use your own analogy, following and Mike not far behind.

David explaining how to find the trail

About a half a mile into the trail where Mike had laid his first circle many of the speedier hashers missed the circle and went on their own trail. With Mike not that far behind the slower hashers he managed to call us back to point out the correct direction of the trail. On further inspection the circle was there albeit faint in appearance due he thinks to hungry dogs or Rocky consuming the flour. Those of us who chose to continue along the long trail we would come across more faint marks here and there, Rocky must have been a really hungry dog!

The weather although cloudy was kind to us today with the threat of rain holding off. All hashers managed to return to the Tavern by 1:00pm to join in the social and participate in the presentation by Keith to mark this auspicious occasion. Keith regaled the history of the Kennet Valley Hash House Harriers from the beginning in 1998 to it’s present day. Maurice read his specially commissioned poem (see below) for this occasion which was very well crafted, funny and as Keith mentioned rhymed.

Mike receiving his “Lifetime Achievement” certificate

Finally, Keith presented Mike with a “Lifetime Achievement” award in recognition of his contribution to the Kennet Valley Hash House Harriers. Were not for Mike establishing the first hash on 1st March 1998 we as group would not have been here today to celebrate the 600th hash😊 On, on for next 600 hashes by my reckoning, subject to any future covid restrictions, this should take place in 2042.

And finally, finally thanks to Keith our GOM (this was Keith’s penultimate hash) for his time, effort, and planning and organising the 600th hash, a long time coming due to covid restrictions but worth it in the end.

 The 600th HASH 
   for those who came before *

One foot tethered to the earth
the other foot feels unchained,
arms like pistons, breathing deep
we start as a hissing train.

Soon we start to calibrate
within the moving group by
shouting out the markers: an
arrow there that never lies,

single dot and double dots,
the detritus of the trail,
circles demand decisions and like
messengers before the Grail

some take options that end in Ts,
for one route only can ever be true.
Brian shouts on-on in triumph and
the team regroups as if they knew.

Some signs get washed on wetter days,
some hide when the snow is curled,
some protest beneath careless cars,
Jeremy’s pitch-perfect on a turd.

Non-hashers might see ogham marks
but we see the breeze jig the meadow
into images of Mike and Margaret
who started the Hash some aeons ago.

Over dale we push along, move along,
trudge heavy hills to evoke the ire
of an engine blowing steam. Maurice
fast downhill, hums “Chariots of Fire”

and we all join in. Problems wither 
as we go, we have no time to sup
their shadows so they linger a step 
behind and never catch us up.

Give us a breeze and sight of the sun
and we become Olympian,
running On Inn much stronger
at the end than when we first began.

First might be last and last be first
for there are no winners in a Hash
just happy punters sprinting home for
Keith’s bonhomie and a pint, at last.
* Kennet Valley Hash House Harriers (KVH3) on the 600th Hash, 27 June 2021. With a nod to the Grand Old Masters (“GOMs”): Mike, Margaret, Jeremy, Maurice, Brian and Keith

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