Adur and Worthing Councils released a tweet on Tuesday (January 21) announcing that it had identified a number of piles of white powder.
It said foreshore inspectors removed 63 of the small piles which were found by Worthing Pier and along the promenade and dog wardens were alerted to the find.
This caused some alarm on social media as Worthing residents reported finding similar white powder.
A running group has now confirmed the white powder was flour, which it used to mark out a trail.
John Biggins, also known as ‘Bouncer’, of Brighton Hash House Harriers, said:“To put minds at rest, the powder is nothing more than common household flour and is used to mark trails by members of the international running club, the Hash House Harriers, in this case a group from Surrey down for a belated Christmas weekend celebration.”
The Surrey chapter visited Worthing on Sunday, January 19, to set a running trail through the town.
Flour symbols are used to set trails for the group’s regular beer runs; blobs or piles of flour lead runners along the route while flour is also used to spell out instructions to runners and challenging ‘false trails’.
Mr Biggins explained the group used flour as it is ‘cheap; washes away with the next rain if not already eaten by animals, birds, insects or gastropods; and is visible in all but chalk and snow’.
“In the early days trails were marked in squares of, or shredded, paper, a cheap and available commodity, but nowadays it not only looks ugly but is recognised as being harmful to the environment on many levels, so alternative mediums have been identified,” he said.
“Although there seems to be no perfect option, flour is cheap; although it has occasionally been mistaken as toxic, Anthrax, cocaine or even target markers for terrorists in the City of London.”
Some ‘Hashers’ use chalk to mark out their trails. The group is part of a worldwide network of Hash House Harriers, established in 1938, which take part in non-competitive running and often socialise at local pubs following the activities.
“So in essence, no need to panic, and in fact the best thing you could do is follow the trail as it will invariably lead to a pub!” John Biggins said.
Local groups include Brighton, Chichester, and Henfield chapters which set runs across Sussex.
Worthing Borough Council, which reposted news of the discovery at the weekend, has been contacted for comment.
More information about Surrey Hash House Harriers can be found at its website.