I was recently on a Hash run with a very small group of people in an outlying area that want to start their own Hash. The GM of this new Hash is a veteran but I am thinking that he put not near enough time explaining how a circle check actually works and therefore several people were confused and one person even got lost. The good news is that everyone came back and nothing bad happened. It was all down to not understanding the most basic part of Hashing.
When you are doing a Hash run it isn't really a Hash run unless there are circle checks. Circle checks will happen a great many times on a trail and this is the largest part of why it is that Hash runs are so much fun.
When you are running or walking or crawling down the clearly marked trail which these days is normally done with powder, at some point in time you are going to encounter a circle on the ground that normally will have a stone or something that is securing some bits of paper in place.
When you get to one of these, if you are the first person there you are supposed to shout out "CIRCLE CHECK!" which means that the real trail is somewhere, normally within 100 meters of your position and again will be marked with paper or powder depending on where you are.
People are meant to spread out at this point and work as a team to find where the real trail continues from at this point forward. The entire idea behind this is so that the run isn't just a race but it is a maze of sorts. If you happen to be the lucky person that discovers the continuation of the trail you are meant to yell out "ON ON!"
When you are yelling this out, you kind of need to make sure that someone behind you actually hears you and that they will be able to repeat the "ON ON!" shout all the way back to where the original circle check actually was. Then, and this part i crucial, someone, ANYONE who is still back at the original circle needs to do 2 things
Kick the powder out of the circle in the direction of the new trail
pick up the paper in the middle and use it as breadcrumbs for the people behind you to follow
If this is not done, which is exactly what the situation was in this "exploratory Hash" that I was part of, the people that are behind you in the pack don't have any idea where the trail is supposed to be going from the point of the circle check in the first place.
Circle checks are meant to keep the pack together so that the people up front have to spend time finding the real trail and this in turn gives the slower members of the pack an opportunity to catch up while the FRB's (Front Running Bastards) have to find the real trail for everyone else
and what i just said above is only partly true because yeah, it is still a race but how can you enjoy your victory if you intentionally screwed over the people behind you that in all honesty, are really on the same team as you are?
At the end of the Hash, it is absolutely vital that everyone actually be able to make it back to the starting point (if it is an A-A run, more on that later.) This can only be accomplished if everyone follows the same rules.
When a path is marked by proper circle checks and the trail is marked by paper "breadcrumbs" it is impossible that someone in the back of the pack won't be able to find the already clearly marked trail.
After we got everyone back to camp, one which had to be done via cell phone and motorbike, we had a lengthy demonstration about how important it is to understand how to execute circle checks properly.
If you are starting with a new hash and don't understand the process please don't be afraid to ask! It is far more important that everyone know the rules because even though we are a fun loving bunch of drinkers with a running problem, we still are all doing this as a club. There really isn't any prize for getting back first.