This was a group of 'Hashers' invited to the Capital City for the annual InterHash festival, hosted primarily in the Millennium Stadium on the penultimate weekend in July. The Red dresses are inexplicable, but the 'Hash' itself is only slightly easier to understand.
It's best described as a past-time or hobby which combines two major interests, beer and running. A sort of paper-chase or Easter egg hunt for thirsty adults. There are Hash clubs and events which are heavily attended all over the world on a regular basis. And last month it was Cardiff's turn to host the annual event, which has also previously visited the likes of Goa and Hong Kong and will be in Bali in 2006. The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff City Council, Cardiff Marketing and the Welsh Tourist Board beat off opposition from Perth, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand to host InterHash 2004.
And the reward? Over 5,000 tourists, ex-pats and Welsh 'Hashers' spent the weekend sampling the delights of Cardiff, South Wales and the Millennium Stadium which adds up to an estimated £2 Million boost to the Welsh economy.
'Hashing' dates back to circa 1938 and a club for British Civil Servants in Kuala Lumpa which was nicknamed the Hash House (Hash being a mildly derogatory term for its unimaginative and monotonous food). Members of the club enjoyed running, as well as drinking, eating and making merry together, the idea caught on around the world and 46 years later the largest event of its kind came to the Millennium Stadium.
'This unique event was an opportunity to once again prove the Millennium Stadium is adaptable to almost any ideas, however weird and wacky!' said Millennium Stadium general manager Paul Sergeant. 'The event lasted 3 days, with the stadium acting as a base for all those participating and hosting a dinner and dance each evening for over 5,000 guests. Hotels, Restaurants, Bars and tourist sites all over Wales from the Brecon Beacons and Merthyr Mawr to Portmeirion will have benefited from this event. The entire weekend is thought to have brought in an estimated £2 Million for Wales' economy. The Stadium benefits not only the Capital but Wales as a whole. When events that attract visitors from all over the world are held here, they arrive with the intention of fulfilling their trip which has a direct impact on the local economy. The huge capacity of the stadium encourages an even larger number to attend such events and experience the diversity that Cardiff as a capital delivers. Such trips can only guarantee tourists get a glimpse of what Wales can offer and encourage a return trip'.
Hosting events such as the 1999 Rugby World Cup and The FA Cup Final, the Millennium Stadium remains the landmark that has created worldwide recognition for Wales' Capital. Since opening in 1999, the Millennium Stadium has welcomed over 1.3 million visitors each year. With the first retractable roof in the UK, the stadium has shown it is a multi-purpose, all round venue which can extended its versatile facilities to any event.
'We wanted nothing but the best for our hashing friends from around the world and that's precisely what the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff provided,' added Brian Tudor - General Manager for Interhash 2004.
(Hashing is a worldwide extremely social running/walking club that boasts a vast list of members from all over the globe. InterHash is a term that is used for a unique annual event, which has more attendees and from a larger number of countries than any other hashing event. Each year a country is nominated and a venue from this nominated country bids to be host - in this instance for The 14th World Interhash 2004. The Millennium Stadium won a bid to be the first ever UK hosts to this prestigious event and in doing so has provided a huge economic boost to the Welsh economy)