What a hash! Way out in the far north-east at Luk Keng, many didn’t bother going, and we only had half the normal numbers. But people, you should remember that runs in these wilds are always memorable and worth the effort of getting to, despite the hare being our ignoble GM Salesman, a strangeling known for setting crazy half-runs that end nowhere! And indeed this night was little different.
“The typhoon spoiled my plans,” lied the hare. “I’d recced a fantastic trail but it was just too wet and windy.” “Bollocks,” we said.
“If you get everything right it’ll take you 20-25 minutes,” the illustrious one continued. “If not, you can double it. The checks are tricky. Think cryptic crosswords.”
And with those Salesmanesque bon mots ringing in our ears, we set off – the usual suspects: Eunuch, Golden Balls, Liberace, Mango Groove, One Eyed Jack, Stingray.
First check on Bride’s Pool Road was solved by Liberace, with trail taking us out along the Starling Inlet waterfront and round the inlet path to – a check like no other: “remember this” myseriously inscribed. Prof. Mango deduced this to be a clue that there would be a loop off this check, coming back to it and then home. How wrong he was. But the decision at the time was: which way is the loop going? We chose the left-hand option and found trail, keeping to the coast, and climbed a small hillock, where a check held us up for 10 minutes. We tried every direction: down the hillock along the coast. Nothing. Right through the shiggy. Spider webs. Left to a shelter. Aha! A chalk inscription: go back to previous check. But we’d already done all that, so started doing it all again. Nothing. Then a slightly more previous scrubbed-out check was found. Nothing. Mysteriouser and mysteriouser.
At this point GB decided to go back to the “remember this” check half a mile back, and started heading uphill from it on the undulating track to Wu Kau Tang. No trail was found, but by now a sort of dogged determination had gripped the pack that they weren’t going to be taken in by any more of the hare’s chicanery. All of them followed GB up the defile, Liberace taking the lead with Mango tucked in, Stingray following. At the back, GB, Eunuch and One Eyed Jack.
Trail was found a long, long way from the “remember this” check, and for a while it was pleasant running on a good trail. But that was all to change on encountering a split. This is where the hare’s machinations worked wonders. Two of the front three – Mango and Stingray – pressed on at the split, while Liberace took the right-hand, downhill option. When the back trio got to the split, Mango was already calling trail ahead, but the backmarkers divined that the right arm of the split would go down to Bride’s Pool Road and thus short-change the front runners. But this is where the beauty lay: Mango, seeing GB’s torch going downhill, yelled out: “OY! No shortcutting!” At this, Liberace – suffering a rare attack of conscience – attempted to get back on the ridge line by forcing his way up through the shiggy. Behind him, the back three took a relatively easy route down to the road and picked up trail. This was totally legal as there was no T marked to send them back. Thus the backmarkers rose to the front.
Eunuch got back first in about 50 minutes. Stingray the road runner reeled in GB on the 2km run-in while One Eyed Jack rolled in fourth, slightly ahead of a distressed Mango who spat his dummy and promised never to come again because he’d been beaten by “shortcutting bastards”. But where was whole-trail frontrunner Liberace?
Conversation turned to Islamic beheadings and deliberate bum notes in Beatles songs. But where was Liberace?
Twenty minutes later a strangely unincandescent Liberace jogged in. He had indeed heard Mango’s exhortation not to shortcut and had tried to get back on the ridge by the most direct route (straight up), but got tangled up in the “f*cking shiggy!” “I couldn’t get out!” he bleated. Well we’ve all been there.
Alcohol-greased conversation continued until the GM called the Salesmanesque circle: the odd downdown interspersed with far more entertaining yatter. The circle finished and we carried on. And on. Nobody wanted to leave.
That’s a great hash.