The Red Dress Run: How It All Started

The Hash House Harriers qualify as the world’s largest running club. Despite their size and having been founded in 1938, their Red Dress Run may be the only completely original idea they have ever had. And it happened nearly by accident.

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On August 7, 1987, a young lady wearing a red dress emerged from an airplane that had landed in southern California to visit a friend from her high school years. Shortly thereafter, she found herself transported to Long Beach, where her friend intended to introduce her to a zany running group called the “Hash House Harriers.” One member, noting her gender and attire, urged that she “just wait in the truck” until her host returned. With that goading, she ran into history sporting her red dress and heels.

Gathering for the first Red Dress Run in San Diego, 1988.

The following year (August 12, 1988), to commemorate the event, the San Diego Hash House Harriers sent “The Lady In Red” an airline ticket to attend the inaugural Red Dress Run. Hundreds of male and female hashers adorned themselves in red dresses for a spectacle widely covered by California newspapers and TV news. In addressing the crowd, The Lady In Red suggested that Hash House Harriers hold the Red Dress Run annually as an occasion be used to raise funds for local charities.

The tradition of the Hash House Harriers Red Dress Run quickly spread to every corner of the globe, including Beijing, Montreal, Ho Chi Minh City, Helsinki, Moscow, Tokyo, Washington, DC, Hobart (Australia) and countless other locations. Over the years, the Red Dress Run has been very successful in raising millions of dollars for a wide variety of local charities.  The New Orleans Hash House Harriers attracted 7,000 participants to their Red Dress Run in 2010, raising more than $200,000 for 50 local charities.

Today the Red Dress Run is an integral part of the Hash House Harriers’ heritage and is as iconic as the Royal Selangor Club where the Hash House Harriers was born and as sacred to them as founder A.S. Gispert’s drinking vessel.
It’s a tradition born before few organizations turned to running events as a way to raise money and long before anyone ran in a dress of any color.

The Hash House Harriers enjoy commonlaw protection of the phrase “Red Dress Run” with additional protections in place and still more legal protections pending.

“How It All Started, ” ©

5 Responses to The Red Dress Run: How It All Started

  1. Pingback: 2011 Red Dress Run events begin to take shape | Red Dress Runs

  2. Urine says:

    For all Hashers…..this sad news just in from the States…..From Flying Booger:

    Donna Rhinehart, the Lady in Red, passed away last night in Phoenix. Everyone who knew her loved her: she was a kind, generous friend to every hasher she met, including me. She made a huge impact on hashing through her campaign to make red dress runs the signature event of the Hash House Harriers, and to convince kennels to contribute money raised from red dress runs to charities in our communities. I don’t think she’ll ever be forgotten. She’ll certainly be missed.

    On Home girl… On Home!

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    • admin says:

      That is a fine article about the history of the New Orleans Hash House Harriers Red Dress Run (which the article fails to qualify). While it is the largest and does the most to help charities, the NOH3 Red Dress Run was not the first. Perhaps the piece can be edited to reflect the fact that the first Red Dress Run was in San Diego in 1988 and that the Hash House Harriers’ signature event has since spread across the globe.

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