The Highlands Hashers group was born out of long conversations on even longer runs over the summer of 2009. Actually, the kernel of the idea was formed in 2007, according to the first blog post on what was then the “Highlands Harriers” blog-o-sphere. Both participants had known each other for over 20 years. One of the founding members had experienced the thrills and excitement of belonging to a real deal NJ-USATF running club. The other was just goofing around enjoying long-distance running after taking 10 years off from high-school x-country and track. Enter Dave and Gene. They reunited briefly for one year after meeting by chance in Central Park just before the start of a NYRRC road race. Unbeknownst to each other, they each were in search of the 9 NYRRC races that would guarantee entry into the New York City Marathon. Over the course of that short summer they discussed what a fun, low-key, running club might be like. Something without all the interpersonal pressures to train hard, race hard, and participate in races. And then two years went by…
Ever in search of the “next big thing,” which has been an important theme among future “participants,” Gene called up Dave in early February 2009. “Hey, um, you know I’ve changed my mind about ultra-marathons. How about we train for the JFK50?” Done. Beginning in March 2009, Dave and Gene got it together every Sunday morning for ever longer long runs. These took place on the lovely Paulinskill Trail in Sussex County and other local trails in the Morris County area. And on those runs the conversation continued. Both discovered that extended conversations on long runs were actually very therapeutic. They also happened to end each run with a refreshing mystery beer of the week. And as we all know, great ideas start with great beer.
Training for the JFK50 was paired with a public call for others to simply come out, enjoy a run in the woods, and share a beer. Discuss your troubles and let them fall by the wayside. We’re not sure whose idea it was to make videos, but these training runs and subsequent invitation to join are well documented in the weekly videos that were shot and edited over the summer of 2009. There were a few subscribers, and some videos were watched by more than just friends and family! Current club “participants,” continue to return to those videos for inspiration – and a good laugh. (side note: if you’re going to watch a video, please watch “Welcome to New Jersey” – It was shot over the course of a full-day, but is only about a minute long.)
Not really knowing what true hashing was at the time (they just thought it was combining the twin pleasures of running through the woods and imbibing! Which it pretty much is) the name Highlands Hashers was embraced. Highlands does not refer to the Jersey shore region, but to the mountainous region of northern New Jersey. Eventually a few more guys did join Dave and Gene in the wintery months of 2010 and a regular Thursday night run was established. The first proper hash run occurred in August 2010, and the club has been delightfully growing organically since then.