Directions to Sandpit Run#18

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Here’s the location for Sandpit#18. For assistance, call Jaws on 050 668 1874. The site is accessible to 2WD cars.

The run starts at 4pm on Friday October 18. The Dh20 run fee will provide a beer stop and a few down-downs for the circle but otherwise it’s BYO food and adult beverages.

From Abu Dhabi, drive along the highway towards Dubai until Exit 390, Saih as Sidira and Bab al Shams resort. Turn right and drive straight for 18.8km to a junction. Turn left, following signs towards Bab al Shams resort. Drive for 18.6km sharp then turn right at a Sandpit Hash sign. (If you reach Bab al Shams resort, you’ve gone too far)

Drive 11km parallel to the asphalted bicycle trail until you see another Sandpit Hash sign, where you turn left into the camping site.

From Dubai, use junction 39 on Sheikh Zayed Road and follow the road as marked on the map towards Bab al Shams resort. At the roundabout, around 27km from Emirates Rd/E311, turn right towards Bab al Shams. Follow this road for 17.1km sharp, then turn left at the Sandpit Hash sign.

Drive 11km parallel to the asphalted bicycle trail until you see another Sandpit Hash sign, where you turn left into the camping site.

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Mud, sweat and Beers

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After a long hot summer, camping season was back… just.

It was still hot during the day but that just meant it was time for the mud, sweat and beers run through the mangroves near Yas Island. Last year we’d timed it for near to low tide. This time it was nearly high tide…

It’s fair to say this run did not begin propitiously. When Aarfabithore arrived at the run site, a secret location known as Sandpit Island, I was a little perplexed that he was towing an empty trailer.

“I thought you were bringing the jetski?” I asked.

“I did,” he replied. Then he went back and from the look on his face, it was clear he was somewhat surprised to see the trailer was very clearly not bearing a jetski.

We drove back along the access road, only having to go about 500m before finding it sitting forlornly  in the middle of the road, just beyond a large bump in the road. Remarkably, it was undamaged and we soon had it back on the trailer.

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At the appointed run start time of 4.30pm, about 25 or so hashers were present. Inevitably another seven or so rolled in over the next 20 minutes, which brought us yet closer to the high tide and the, er, adventures that would bring.

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It’s fair to say Sandpit Island is pretty featureless.

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H@sh F@g, All Ewes’d Up – some of the inaugural Sandpitters from Run#1 – and Alayna, who had done several Sandpit runs in utero and later in the child carrier, were up for it. Although it’s fair to say Alayna was blissfully unaware of what was ahead.

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But the trail soon wound its way into the mangroves and quickly became more interesting.

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This year we found real mud into which we sunk knee deep.

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And in between, there were the channels dredged as part of some distant and abandoned project.

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Alayna had been prepared for this by her parents, being transferred from the baby carrier to a pool toy.

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She took all this in her stride.

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On the far side, H@sh F@g reached into the bottom of the baby carrier and began bringing out cold bottles of adult beverages. Win!

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The trail headed deeper into the mangroves.

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There were a few natural channels to cross.

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Then into the mangrove forest…

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… which became dense at times.

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Floyd (hash name: Camel Toe) went business class once the water got deep enough to swim.

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Some were running… at least until out of sight of the camera.

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This was becoming hard work with the incoming tide. This had been bone-dry when we set the trail.

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But the beer stop,the one and only rule of Sandpit Hash, was just ahead.

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It was a nice spot to watch the sun set over the towers of downtown Abu Dhabi.

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Then it was time to swim the coolers back over the channel and head back to camp.

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The weather was fine to camp. Everyone was saying how surprisingly cool it was and how camping season was definitely back. And then nearly everyone left and drove the 20 minutes back to the land of aircon, refrigerators and hot showers. Go figure…

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Are you ready for Mud, Sweat and Beers on Sept 27?

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Now that the worst of summer is over but the water’s the perfect temperature, it’s time for the annual mud run through the mangroves of Yas Island. img_2908

Last year we had no idea what this was going to be like.

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It was a blast! (This assessment may have been in some way related to the beer stop)

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And the camping temperatures were perfect. So this year we’re doing it all again. Be warned: It will be MUDDY — really muddy — so bring your skankiest running gear

The route will also include a couple of short 10m swims across channels. You can do this in almost any footwear but the ones who seemed to have the least problem wore dive booties. The mud can be a little abrasive if you’re in aqua sandals.

But there IS a beer stop, the one and only rule of the Sandpit Hash! Bring water to wash with afterwards and some bug spray. There’s nothing at the site other than sand but plenty of room for camping. The run will begin at 4.30pm.

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We’ve even arranged for a special collectable* T-shirt to be made to commemorate the mud run.

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(* this isn’t actually true)

We’ve made 50 of them, in a range of sizes. The run fee is Dh50 with a shirt or Dh20 without.

The usual Sandpit Hash rules apply – it’s BYO everything and the only thing we provide is the beer stop and some beers to penalise people in the circle afterwards.

How to get there: The site is accessible by 2WD cars. From the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway, take the turnoff to Yas Island and head towards Saadiyat. Once you pass Ikea on the left, take Exit 29, marked “Yas Island West”. Turn left at the traffic lights and cross the motorway on an overpass. At the next lights, turn right and cross the motorway again via an underpass then take the first exit. Go through a fenceline and turn left at the next intersection then head towards the girder bridge over a channel. Cross the bridge then turn left towards the fishermen under the motorway bridge. This area was easily navigable by 2WDs a week ago. Follow the wheel tracks that parallel the channel towards a line of power pylons. Ignore any “Road closed” and “Construction traffic only” signs and follow the road along the pylons for about 3km then take the first turning on your left. You should see our cars, including a brown Toyota Fortuner with a kayak rack on the roof. From downtown Abu Dhabi, take the Saadiyat Highway until the exit to Yas Island West. Turn left and cross the motorway via the underpass then follow the directions as above. If you get lost, call shorth@ndjob on 050 561 7087

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Liwa Sandpit Hash

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Liwa Sandpit Hash

Dunes, Traditional Farms, Wine Tasting & Historical Fort Experience!

Come beat the heat in the dry, cool evening desert air of Liwa Oasis, the cultural hearth of Abu Dhabi. We’ll run along some of the highest sand dunes in the world, visit traditional date & camel farms, and explore a historical fort in the oasis. And probably be stared at, honked at, and cheered on. Then we’ll relax in the chilled Liwa pool and have an evening party at the spooky bar or in one of the hugely spacious rooms with big balconies.
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What: Abu Dhabi Sandpit Hash #16

When: Liwa Hotel*

Where: Friday, August 23 – be finished checking in by 6:00pm (you can check in early and use the pool). Departing from the lobby at 6:30pm sharp.

Why: The desert is so much cooler in the summer at night, and why not?

How much: Book your hotel room ASAP, plus 50aed for beer/picnic stop on the run, and softies.

* – this is NOT the Tilal Liwa Hotel, nor is it Qasr Al Sarab. hotels.com is offering a discount that expires on Sunday August 18! Go to this site and use this code: HAUFLA10

Directions from Abu Dhabi.

1: Do not leave home without getting gas (or even petrol) and give yourself two hours minimum to get there from Abu Dhabi.

2: Take the highway through Musaffah towards the E11 and turn right towards Tarif.

3: Take E-11 for a while (about 75km) until you get to the Madinat Zayed Exit.

4: Take the E-45 another 50km into Madinat Zayed, and another 50km into Liwa, otherwise known as Mazeira. Hooray you’re here!

5: In Liwa follow the E-45 until it dead-ends at a roundabout. Go right (on E-90), through a roundabout, and you’ll see Liwa Hotel, on your left, on a sand dune; because of poor urban planning, you will have to go past the hotel, make a u-turn and come back.

It’s time for a Sauna Sandpit Run

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The Sandpit Hash was in remission for the summer, but then we figured we better at least see what it’s like to run in the hottest month of the year while drinking dehydrating fluids.

So we’ve scheduled a Special Summer Sauna Sandpit run. And where else would we do this other than in Liwa on the edge of the Empty Quarter, the biggest sand desert in the world?

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We’re not completely barking – well, not yet – so we’ve scheduled an aircon hotel for the overnight rather than camping. But Eleven Inches will be setting a run in the desert around dusk, after which we’ll eat and then repair to the cool of the hotel for an evening of the usual, um, conviviality.

What:             Sandpit Hash Run

Where:          Meet at Liwa Hotel* (we will caravan a short distance to the run)

When:            Friday, Aug 23 – check in by 5:30 at the latest, for departure to the run

How Much:  Book your hotel room of choice ASAP; 50aed for Dinner and Beverages in the desert.

* – Note that this is NEITHER the “Tilal Liwa Hotel” nor “Qasr Al Sarab”.  Liwa Hotel bookings are refundable until the 20thon booking.com, and include late checkout, bike rental, and breakfast.  They’re very large (for sharing) and have massive balconies – hooray! You can see the hotel here and book it here.

That’s it. Book a room and we’ll see you in Liwa on August 23! What could go wrong?
Other Sandpit dates: 
The infamous Sandpit Hash Mud run will be on Friday September 27.
We’ll do a special collectible* Mud Sweat & Beers T-shirt for this one.
(* Pffft!)
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Sandpit#15: respite from sauna season

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It was that time of year again: sauna season.

But we figured there was still time to squeeze in one final Sandpit weekend by canyoning through the pools at Hatta and then “camping” in the climate-controlled environs of the Hatta Fort Hotel.

Even though the weekend coincided with a cold snap (a relative term in the sun-baked UAE – it meant it was only 43degC as we crossed Madam Plain instead of the usual 50degC), there was a mammoth gathering of the usual Abu Dhabi suspects augmented by a great turnout from the Al Ain and Dubai hashers.

Once the heat moderated a little, we headed in convoy towards Hatta Pools then wandered down to the main pool.

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The canyon was in two parts. The cruisy upper part was reached by heading along the side of the canyon until there was a point where you could access the bottom of the wadi then we headed back downstream towards the main pool.

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At first, it was cruisy. Then when there was a traffic jam of hashers ahead, we realised we’d reached the first constriction.

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But it was all good.

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The canyon changes every time a flood comes through. This time there was a lot more gravel than on the Sandpit here last year.

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Then we hit the main pool.

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This was about a 100m swim, ending in the main pool.

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Some opted for a, er, rest halfway along, trying to climb the side of the canyon for a break.

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When this was tougher than it looked, it turned out the various subcontinental visitors were more than willing to give a hand, which was applied posterially. What selfless fellows!

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Inevitably, this improved the impetus out of the water in more ways than just one!

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This was the site of the beer stop. A fact only slightly affected by the popularity of this weekend outstripping the supplies of beer on hand…

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Then it was time for the second half of the gorge, downstream from the main pool, which I’d described as being “more sporting”.

A hint of exactly what that meant came within a few metres.

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This began with a leap of faith into a pool of indeterminate depth.

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Lucky for us, Aarfabithore did some depth-testing for us, complete with beer in hand.

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This was a different world to the one we’d just come from.

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But with high and steep walls, the bottom of the canyon here rarely saw the sun and it was appreciable cooler than outside.

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It was certainly more sporting.

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And then the roof closed over to form a cave.

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Usually you can sneak through using a kind of tunnel at water level to the right but it wasn’t working this time so we had no option but to go up and over the rock pile.

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There were a series of willing helpers for this process.

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There was a delicate descent on the far side…

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And then a final pool through a cave.

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And we were done.

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Then it was just a short matter of walking back to the cars.

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Then returning to the villas at the Hatta Fort Hotel, which are sufficiently far from the rest of the resort to allow for the usual shenanigans.

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We had a quick circle where infringements actual and imagined were punished.

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And this included the awarding of the Sandpit Hash Sh!t, a barbecue which was transmogrified at Sandpit#13 when one of our hashers fell on it after an evening of dining not wisely but too well.

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And who else could it possibly go to other than Jaws, who’d managed to lose his car key in the pools, including the Emirates ID card which would normally be crucial for crossing back into the UAE…

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Then it was time for a night of conviviality, leading to the usual casualties.

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Sandpit#16

BREAKING: There will be a sauna version of the Sandpit in August, in the beautiful winery country of Al Gharbia.

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Stay tuned for details but we’ll stay in the Mirfa Hotel, which is dirt cheap at this time of year.

How to get to Sandpit#15

Sandpit#15 is only a few days away.

The two villas at Hatta Fort Hotel are booked and there’s plenty of space to crash on the floor in the aircon if you’re happy to pitch in for the cost of renting the villas. It should be under Dh200/person. You can also get a room at the hotel for about Dh900 a room.

You have to drive through Oman to get to Hatta Fort and to get to the pools. You’ll need your passport of Emirates ID.

How to get there: 

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Once you’re there:

We’ll probably have lunch at the villas beforehand. We will LEAVE the hotel at 4.00pm to go to the pools. You’ll need a sense of adventure and a sense of humour. There are options to do the upper gorge (which is pretty easy) and the lower  gorge (which is rather more sporting and fun) or both. Bring plenty of water!

And to give you an idea of what to expect, these are some pix from last year:

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Sandpit Hash run#14

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Nobody could accuse Sandpit Run#14 of being dull. We started the weekend wrecked and nearly ended it shipwrecked.

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The wrecked bit was explained by the evening before, which had involved Bacchanalian pursuits at the Abu Dhabi Hash Ball. A fine time was had, at least based on the bits that I remember.

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But it’s fair to say that the group which assembled at the port for the first of two boat rides across to tropical Lulu Island were the more dedicated hashers, and the less enthusiastic ones remained in bed nursing pounding heads.

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Eighteen such dedicated Sandpitters treated our morning-after physiologies to the short but choppy boat ride from al Mina across to the seaward side of Lulu Island. Considering it was so close to downtown Abu Dhabi, the island was unexpectedly pleasant with a breeze off the ocean keeping things considerably cooler than the asphalted car parking area of the port had been.

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We were met on the island by Aarfabithore and Di!do, who’d put their camping gear on the boat but then came across on their jetski. As the hare set the run (picking a route based on his varying levels of nausea at the time, making it the shortest run in Sandpit history) others set up camp and took turns on the jetski or being towed on the inflatable ring strung behind it.

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Basing the start of the run based on a combination of hangover recovery, length of trail and sunset timing, we opted for kick off at 6.30pm.

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It was agreed that this was a proper recovery run and any running would be punished. Although that seemed like a highly hypothetical consideration since just getting people beyond a prone position on the beach was going to be a bigger hurdle than dissuading athleticism.

The timing was impeccable. We ran immediately into island security, which is there to prevent people going further than the beach but is also rarely seen. So we made a tactical withdrawal back to the beach then headed back inland once they were gone.

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Who needs to go to Liwa? We didn’t need to because Liwa had come to us.

When Lulu Island was created just over 20 years ago, they imported sand from the Empty Quarter to create dunes. This had created some interesting topomorphic features and when the trail ventured through a saddle between two of these dunes was quickly dubbed, depending on your orientation, the cleavage or the ass crack.

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We’ll leave that metaphor there because we then ascended the, er, protuberance and were rewarded with a fine view back over towards the Corniche and downtown Abu Dhabi.

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Then it was back down into some date palms then back up again to the beer stop on top of the dune, with views out over the Gulf where the sun disappeared into the haze and back to Abu Dhabi. It was a fine spot, in which we lingered until it was almost fully dark.

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Back on the beach, we had the briefest of circles. But not before some of our number succumbed to the travails of the previous evening.

Last To Come enjoyed a moment of domination.

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Then we hosted a brief but amusing circle, capably RAed by Aarfabit, in which miscreants were cited and punished for sins both real and imagined.

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Then it was time to settle into the usual Sandpit evening events, which included W@nker the B@nker’s fine guitar skills.

This was unfortunately matched with singing by most of the rest of us which was of a quality more consistent with cats being tortured than anything deliberately melodic.

I have a video of this singing and for a small consideration – sent to extortion@sandpithash.org – I’ll destroy the file.

Considering the previous evening’s shenanigans, we lasted past midnight, where five of us took part in the fine tradition of the midnight nudie run.

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During the night the steady breeze picked up into something more serious.

It was certainly more serious for Snow White’s gazebo, which went from sheltering Sandpitters during the day to becoming a spinnaker sometime around 3am.

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More concerning was seeing the waves breaching the breakwater just offshore. The breakwater must be about 3m above water level so this was not looking very hopeful for the boat ride back.

The first boat was supposed to arrive at 8am but for nearly an hour, there was no sign.

So, from wrecked to shipwrecked. We began to wonder if we’d ever be able to get off the island, then began wondering how much food we had left and that in turn led to a consideration of which of us we’d have to eat first, like the South American rugby team trapped in the Andes.

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As we were contemplating this, two boats arrived and there was a rush to up sticks and head back to town, where hot showers and beds were waiting.

There was only a brief section where we were facing the wrath of the Gulf but that was plenty long enough as the noukhadas carefully nursed us through 3m swells and back into the calmer waters, during which some of our hashers spent the entire time with their eyes closed tightly shut.

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And then it was time to recover. I think Vanessa’s description summed up the weekend.

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We should be back on form before the season-ended Sandpit Hash.

Sandpit#15. Friday June 14.

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It’s now too hot to camp but not too hot for a final Sandpit extravaganza which, like last year, will be a canyoning trip through Hatta Pools, followed by an evening of shenanigans at the Hatta Fort Hotel. We’re booked the two huge villas with plenty of floor space to crash and have arranged a special rate for those who want their own rooms.

How to get to Sandpit#14

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We’re a week away from Sandpit Run#14 on tropical Lulu Island on Friday May 17. It’s all part of a hashapalooza weekend with the Abu Dhabi hash ball the night before.

Everyone will be glad to know that we won’t be leaving until the effects of the previous evening’s shenanigans have begun to fade. Thanks to Eleven Inches’ generous noukhada skills, there’ll be a boat ferrying people from Al Mina (or Mina Port, as tautologists are wont to say) from 2pm to 4pm and then back again early(ish) the next morning.

The meeting place is marked. Email us on sandpit.hash@gmail.com if you need more info. Lulu Island has no amenities of any kind. Really — none! So come prepared. If you’re making your own way over, we’ll be on the Gulf side of the island, just above the “I” marked on the map below. Look for a bright yellow sea kayak on the beach.

The usual Sandpit Hash rules apply: the run fee (Dh50 this time, to help pay for the boat hire) covers a beer stop on the run and some down-downs in the circle but it’s BYO everything else — food, adult beverages, camping gear, water etc etc.

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The Sandpit Hash’s 13th run. What could go wrong?

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What could go wrong? The Sandpit Hash had reached the point of having its ominous 13th run, which was being organised by the Al Ain Hash in the dunes near Nahel.

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And of all the perils that could befall us in the UAE, a monsoon at the end of April seemed unlikely. But as we packed up on Friday morning, it was to threatening skies and then heavy rain.

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This might have daunted lesser hashers but the Sandpitters are made of sterner stuff. That or we’re more stupid. In any event, 30 hashers who fitted into either (or both) of those categories made the trek into the desert to a site Forrest Grunt had found.

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Some, of course, managed to get stuck while playing in the dunes beside the road. Does anyone think Can’t Get It Up ought to be renamed Can’t Get It Out???

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After the usual faffing, the run began at 5.30pm at which point the rain had eased off. As we headed away, Singe, one of the A2H3 group, managed to get his car bellied by being too timid while cresting a dune. This would normally be a matter of amusement to be cited later in the circle until one of the Al Ain crew announced: “But that’s the car carrying the beer stop!”

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This prompted a sudden profusion of volunteers offering to help.

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Red Bull’s 4×4 was called in to help and we resumed the run.

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The course was a good ‘un, involving a series of false trails set by Pebble Dash and Bustard to punish the FRBs.

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By this point Singe’s beer truck had been debogged by Red Bull and having found that  timidity had been a problem on the previous dune, Singe decided to gun it on the next one.

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He discovered that it worked. And he also discovered he should have worn his seat belt… I’m sure the bruise where his head hit the ceiling of the 4×4 will fade in time…

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But the good news was that the beer stop was just ahead. This was good because some of our hashers were suffering.

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If you ever wondered about the recuperative abilities of beer, check out this before-and-after example of Wining Beach. “Get this woman some Heineken, stat!”

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We headed on into the dunes once more, with the trail bifurcating into one for “walkers” and another for “runners and brisk walkers”.

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I’m not sure which category covered one of our hares, for whom this was her second lap of this course.

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Her co-hare adopted a winning strategy of grabbing onto Aarfabithore’s ass and getting towed up the dune.

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The run continued. Apollo continued to show up all of us bipeds.

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We crested a dune and discovered Beer Stop Two just ahead.

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Technically it was still Beer Stop One, just in a different location, but after conferring with the hash referees, we decided this raised the average BSQ (beer stop quotient) ratio to 1.07692307692, having had 14 beer stops in 13 Sandpit Hashes. We are now ahead of the curve on the one and only rule of the Sandpit Hash!

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Alayna, the youngest sandpitter, completed the run. Her parents, H@sh F@g and All Ewes’d Up, had swapped from a front-carrying device to a backpack one. Was this because Alayna was becoming heavy, I asked.

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“Nah,” H@sh F@g replied. “It’s to increase the carrying capacity.” And with that he rattled the backpack and the clink of six frosty beers in the storage space demonstrated the reason for the change.

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We continued on, although it’s fair to say the pace was not what it once was.

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And we were soon back in the campsite, where we prepared for the evening ahead. A carafe is definitely the classier way to quaff Russian Bear vodka, the finest spirits than Dh15 can buy!

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The fire was lit and then the circle began.

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The hares, Pebble Dash and Bustard, were brought into the circle. And alongside them were the Sandpit Two, Moby D!ck and Jaws, the only ones who had been to all 13 sandpits.

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Forrest Grunt had organised a raffle, which included this fetching piece of… um….

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This is pretty much how the later part of the evening looked to me at the time.

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The next morning, it turned out we had a new Sandpit Hash Sh!t, thanks to the, er, jaunty new shape Peking F*ck’s barbecue gained sometime late in the evening… (And it turned out the person who assisted in creating this new shape wasn’t aware of it until the following Monday…)

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Amazingly, the rain that had stopped just before the run held off until we were leaving the next morning. It returned with a vengeance. As we were driving back to the Dhabs, the temperature was recording 18 degrees only a few days from May. WTF, UAE???

Big thanks to Forrest Grunt and the rest of the Al Ain hash for organising an excellent Sandpit. On on to Sandpit#14!

Sandpit#14

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The weekend of May 16 to 18 is shaping up as something of a Hashapalooza. On Thursday night everyone is welcome at the Abu Dhabi Hash ball, a night which is not to be forgotten but is also unlikely to be remembered with much clarity either, if previous years have been any indication. It’s black tie and Dh250 a ticket, or Dh200/head if you organise a table of eight. You can sign up online here: http://www.auh4.org/social/2013Ball.php

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Since we’re going to be in town that weekend anyway, we’ve scheduled May 17 for Sandpit#14 on tropical Lulu Island. You can get an idea about what this is like through last year’s trip report: https://sandpithash.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/sandpit-hash-on-tropical-lulu-island/ We’re having to hire a boat for this, which will do shuttles from Al Mina in downtown Abu Dhabi from 2pm to 4pm and back again the next morning. To cover the cost of this, the hash price will rise to Dh50 for this Sandpit, which includes, of course, a beer stop.

Sandpit#15

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The season-ending Sandpit Hash will be on Friday June 14 and will be at Hatta Pools and is not so much a hash run as a canyoning trip. Improbably enough, this can be done when it’s 50 degrees outside and there are the easier upper canyon and the more taxing lower canyon. Because camping is out of the question, we’ll hire another villa at the Hatta Fort Hotel for the evening. Lots of floor space to crash out. You can read about the last one here: https://sandpithash.wordpress.com/2012/06/

Sandpit#16

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In late September we’ll have a Mud Sweat and Beers mangrove run. Based on last year, this is a lot of fun (except for the heat stroke the course setter suffered!?) and we’ll do a commemorative* and collectable** T-shirt to mark the start of the Sandpit’s third season. You can read about last year’s one here: https://sandpithash.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/sandpit-run7/

(*barely **unlikely)