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Penguin Journal

Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

September 10, 2000


"The Penguin" and Colin King, GM of the Petaling Hash House Harriers.

This is about as far away from home as I can get. I am almost exactly halfway around the world. If I get any farther away, I'll be on my way back!

I've spent the past two weeks in Malaysia: first at the Eco-Challenge 2000 in Borneo, and the past several days in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia is a strange, wonderful, confusing, exciting place of extreme contrasts. I can barely begin to put it into words.

If you haven't seen the Eco-Challenge on television, you've missed something really special. You can go to: to read about this year's event. The competitors sailed, coasteered, trekked, canoed, floated, rappelled, scuba-ed, and confronted the extremes of cold river water, steamy jungle paths, towering caves, and unforgiving terrain to complete the most rigorous Eco-Challenge to date.

I was following a team that I have worked with since early this spring. Their race didn't go exactly as they would have liked and they ended up dropping out. It was a bitter disappointment, I'm sure, since they had spent nearly a year preparing. But that kind of racing (called expedition or adventure racing depending on whom you talk to]) is not the place for the timid.

From Borneo, I traveled to Kuala Lumpur where I had a chance to run with the original Hash House Harriers. The HHH began there and has been running continuously since 1938. It's quite a tradition.

The "hash" was of the "live hare" variety, meaning that a runner set the course about ten minutes before the rest of us started. The run-- a VERY kind word for it--was through a rubber plantation and indigenous jungle terrain. I did much more climbing than running, but it was fun all the same.

The "hash" is just a prelude to the evening's REAL purpose, which, to an outsider, seemed to consist mostly of making fun of or embarrassing everyone there. The drinking helped, I'm sure. I was lucky enough to escape nearly all of the good-natured ribbing, but I did find myself "chugging" a glass of beer for the first time in nearly thirty years!

In the end, though, I was just another runner away from home hoping to spend time with some friends. And that I did.

The fall season starts in earnest soon. I'll be in Portland, OR and Fort Worth, TX over the next couple of weeks. Then it's Washington, DC for the Marine Corps Marathon and the GIANT 5th Running of the Brigade Bash on October 21.

Takin' it to the streets...



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Last Updated: September 18, 2000 21:44