The HASH HOUSE HARRIERS is a social club of runners that have been described as "a drinking club with a running problem." Ex-pat British businessmen, accountants, lawyers, military, civil servants, etc., started the HASH in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It is a club based on the old English game of hares and hounds where one or two members would be given several minutes head start and would drop shredded paper as the "scent". The hounds would then follow, after the prescribed time, and attempt to catch the hares. The hares would lay the trail in a straight or obvious line, but then would stop laying trail and run off in another direction and begin laying the trail after 100 meters or so. When the hounds discovered that they were no longer on trail, they would fan out in all directions in search of the "scent" and would call to the others when the trail was once again discovered.
The founder of the HASH, A.S."G" Gispert, in 1937 discovered the Springgit Harriers, one of the paperchase clubs in Malacca. He introduced Ronald "Torch" Bennett to the concept and the stage was set.
When "G" returned to Kuala Lumpur in 1938, he became a member of the Federated Malay States Volunteer Reserves, which trained on Mondays. "G" and many of the other ex-pat Brits were housed in barracks in the Royal Selangor Club where he and "Torch" would often discuss starting a harrier club in KL (Kuala Lumpur).
Finally in about December of 1938, "G" convinced about a dozen others to follow his inaugural paper trail. Gispert then suggested the name of HASH HOUSE HARRIERS in mock allusion to the mess at the Selangor Club, where many of them dined. The runs were held Monday evenings after reserve training and were followed by refreshment of Tiger beer.
A.S."G" Gispert was killed in battle defending Singapore from the Japanese at 0400 hours 11 February 1942. The HASH has grown from those humble beginnings to include thousands of chapters and tens of thousands of hashers worldwide.
Much of the information presented above comes from the book "On On! Run #2 Hash House Harriers 1938-1992" by Harrier International and the late Tim "Magic" Hughes, Phhh.D.
More information: Wikipedia.com - Hash House Harriers