Welcome to the FOOFAAH4 website, which arose following upon the introduction in Scotland of Phase 1 of moving out of the Covid-19 induced Lockdown. Its objective was to support SARS (a Socially Acceptable Running System), specifically formulated so as to provide some form of legitimate hashing continuity within Aberdeenshire during the (ridiculously) stringent lockdown transition period prevailing between June 2020 and June 2021.
Hashing is an international activity organised by a worldwide community of local chapters of the Hash House Harriers. It is a hare and hounds type running event with a few twists, such as punctuating the trail (often designated by means of irregularly spaced blobs of flour) with a series of checks at which front runners have to expend effort in order to correctly determine the future direction intended by the hare. This helps to keep the pack together, neutralising the competitive element in favour of social engagement (which is a big part of hashing).
One countermeasure to the Covid-19 pandemic has been a restriction on gatherings, which has prompted the need for a trail which remains available over a longer timescale in order that it may be followed by socially distanced participants. ‘Follow Oodles Of Flour At Any Hour’ captures the essence of this recreational activity, which is known by the mnemonic FOOFAAH. The original FOOFAAH Hash House Harriers (FOOFAAH4) was founded on 30th May 2020 in order to promote this new sport within Aberdeen and its hinterland until such time as conventional hashes could be resumed.
Site created 30th May 2020 by John Carter (JC)
SARS has been devised in compliance with the Covid-19 Phase 1 guidance, in order to move Hashers a step closer to regaining the shared experience provided by a full-blown hash. Enviseaged as a stop-gap measure, it is an interim experiment which embraces the notion of individuals, ‘household groups’, or permitted clusters, as they ‘Follow Oodles Of Flour At Any Hour’ (FooFaah). The various side tabs provide information on current and past trails, facilitate communication and useful feedback on the latest known state of the trail(s), and summarise the Scottish Lockdown history with its ever changing and politically driven Covid-19 rules (neither science nor wider social implications being given serious consideration).
The core concepts of a FOOFAAH trail are summarised below:
- A hare sets a circular trail of about 5 - 6 km in length (ideally in sparsely populated countryside) ready for an 11.00 am start each Saturday morning. Its availability for the enjoyment by sporadic solitary participants, or households, or joint households (where applicable) should be maintained through to the following Saturday evening.
- The participating hound(s) set off in their discrete clusters so as to abide by the current social distancing guidelines. During the early stages of lockdown in particular, where overcrowding might be a problem at certain generally preferred times, the option is available to pre-book a 15 minute start window, thereby increasing confidence that the venue will remain uncrowded. Currently the FIRST hour of a trail’s availability, which means 11:00 – 12:00 hrs on its first Saturday morning, is designated as it's Peak Time. The Links tab on the sidebar contains a shortcut to the booking site. At all other times (including following any refreshes) just turn up, but be prepared to observe social distancing guidelines.
- A map reference and google map link will be provided identifying a site with adequate parking space for say, ½ dozen vehicles. This will be accompanied by sufficient instructions to engage with the trail, which is marked with daubs of flour, at intervals of about 40 paces (+/- 50%) where possible. If the hare considers it necessary to supplement the flour with for instance lengths of biodegradable paper ribbon (or wool) tied to shrubs this will be highlighted on the joining instructions.
- At intervals the trail will be punctuated with checks (perhaps about 8 to 10 in all). These checks will be identified by a round(ish) circle (generally at ground level) and offer the possibility of proceeding along a choice of routes. Where possible the location of a check will be emphasised by three vertically stacked spots of flour placed above ground level. [Occasionally 5 spots might be employed to signify a beer or sweetie check - and B or S inserted within the circle]. Resumption of daubs of flour within about 80 paces (+/- 25%) will serve to confirm the correct route choice. Occasionally an arrow may be used to emphasise the direction in which to proceed. There are no backchecks - if you are on flour you are on trail. Checks should be left unmarked so as to preserve the challenge for following FooFers (FFFs). A circle and arrow combination denotes the end of the trail (with the arrow pointing in the direction required to return to the cars - which might potentially re-use part of the out-trail).
- A prolonged absence of markers would indicate either that you are off trail, or else the flour might have been washed out (or interfered with). Although hares are generally happy to offer assistance if contactable by phone, catering for the absence of real-time assistance places greater emphasis on paying close attention to the presence (or otherwise) of daubs of flour, retracing steps where applicable, and keeping a sharp look-out for checks, or possible deviations onto other pathways. Because of the lessened ability to benefit from teamwork, the trail is significantly shorter and the markings more conspicuous than in a conventional Hash, and the checks easier to break.
- If visiting a trail that is more than a few days old it is suggested that FooFers consider arming themselves with a small provision of flour with which to refresh fading checks or daubs, in order to assist FFFs. Dreich conditions can soon wipe out markings, but conversely during prolonged dry spells a trail might survive in excess of a couple of weeks). As a courtesy, particularly to the hare who has put considerable effort into providing your enjoyment, feedback from hounds to the organiser would be much appreciated. This allows for demand to be guaged, and assists in updating the current status on the 'Current Trails' page (where notice will also be given if the hare has elected to refresh the trail).
Suspension Of FOOFAAH4 Activities
In time the incredible work done to develop effective vaccinations meant that these could be substantially rolled out during January - July 2021, thereby allowing a gradual easing of pandemic restrictions.
From 16 Apr 21, whilst still in Level 4, the 'stay local' rule was lifted, thus enabling general ‘day travel’ outwith one’s local authority. This permitted sports clubs some increased but still limited functionality, provided that group size was restricted to the 15 members limitation previously decreed on 12 March.
On 26 April 21 the level 4 restrictions were eased into a modified level 3, and some Hash Chapters resumed activities around the beginning of May, using discrete start times for various “bubbles” limited to 15 participants.
On 17 May 21 restrictions were further eased (for most of mainland Scotland) to a modified level 2, which enabled the re-introduction of limited in-home socialising (without social distancing), and further relaxed outdoor socialising so as to permit a maximum of 8 people from separate households to gather provided they practiced social distancing (2 metres). Aberdeen Hash House Harriers (AH3) held a pilot Hash on 24 May, and re-commenced regular runs (with bubbles) two weeks later.
On 5th June most of Scotland outwith the central belt progressed to level 1. For organised outdoor sports the maximum bubble size of participants allowed to take part was set at 30 (level 3), 50 (level 2), 100 (level 1), and 500 (level 0).
On 19 July 21 all parts of Scotland moved into a modified Level 0 (still a long way short of normality, but 15 people (from 15 households) may now meet outdoors without physically distancing.
Following upon its first anniversary (celebrated on 30 May 21 with trail #53), FOOFAAH4 activities were suspended in favour of the resumption of conventional hashing through AH3 (and its promise of greater social cohesiveness).
Noteworthy FOOFAAH4 Statistics
Over a 12 months period 53 trails were set, attracting 193 participants who accumulated 2,016 turnouts (providing an average attendance of 38).
Trail#1 at Aquhythie lays claim to the smallest turnout of only 10 attendees, but at the other extreme and after the final recount Wee Willie’s trail #44 at Tollohill and Fireflaps trail #46 at Cairn-mon-earn both attracted 60 participants (joint King and Queen of the Foofaah).
In total 32 hares or co-hares volunteered to set and maintain trails, of which JC, Bin Liner, Little Shit, Sharnie, Shaky, and Tonto were each responsible for 4 or more.
Apart from JC there were another two hashers who completed all 53 trails – namely Barbarella and T’rex.
Other participants who attended 40 or more Foofaahs were (in order) Little Shit, Sharnie, Drillbit, Fifi, Sauerkraut, Bin Liner, Sir Deadmund, Numbskull, Not Dot, Ballerina, and the Dutchess.