The Happy Swallow

It all started several years earlier when I read an article in one of the Boston newspapers about how patrons of The Happy Swallow bar in Framingham would cheer wildly for the first marathon runner to come off the course near Mile 7 and enter the bar. Then the owner would give that runner a free beer as a reward. I said to myself: I want to be that runner on Monday! I had a low corral seeding, which put me near the front of the field but realistically marathon PRs were a thing of the past. So I decided I would essentially race as hard as I could to Framingham at my faster 7 mile pace instead of my normal marathon pace and then just jog the remaining 19.2 miles into Boston to the finish line.

I was pretty proud of myself when I got to The Happy Swallow in record time. However, as I entered, the patrons were more interested in watching the Red Sox game on TV than cheering for me… Instead I just got some really strange glances. I walked up to the bar and asked the owner if I was the first runner to come in. He assured me I was and gave me a beer on the house. As I stood at the bar, I looked around and saw some Happy Swallow T-shirts on the wall. I finished my beer, thanked the owner and told him if he would give me one of those T-shirts (I had no money on me), I would wear it the next 19.2 miles into Boston and advertise his establishment. He didn’t miss a beat and said “You look like you wear a Large” and gave me the T-shirt to put on.

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[Photo by Art Illman]
Fast forward to 2006. I was running the marathon that day with my friend Charlie Cunningham and was wearing my Happy Swallow T-shirt from that race several years before. We planned to make a stop at the Happy Swallow so he could get his own T-shirt (he brought cash along just in case the owner was not as generous this time). Here is a picture of me running into Framingham and acknowledging the spectators who recognized the T-shirt (that’s Charlie in the background).

We were not the first runners to enter the bar, but by then we realized any runner who would be crazy enough to leave the course and drink a beer would get it for free. The second picture is of us toasting each other at the bar before “carbo-loading” for the remainder of the race.

WARNING:  We are trained professionals, DO NOT try this at home!

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[Photo by Art Illman]
Charlie insisted on paying the owner for his T-shirt and off we went. We completed the marathon with a less than spectacular finishing time but had a memory to last a lifetime!

Oh yeah, where does the “Typhoon” nickname come from? I do several free races in Hawaii where you do not register or wear a bib number. You just get a pop-sickle stick when crossing the line with your order of finish number, and only when you check-in at the finish area do you ever say who you are. After reading race results from prior races, I saw many people had nicknames. I thought “Typhoon” flowed well with my last name and was fitting for the islands.

Jim “Typhoon” Tucker
Columbus, Ohio
Age – 54
Bib # 22164




Jim Tucker is a run/walk coach with the Central Ohio Chapter of Team In Training (TNT), the world’s largest endurance sports training program. Jim has completed 100 marathons with a PR of 2:49.


[Art Illman is the chief photographer at the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Massachusetts.

An award-winning photographer with more than 25 years of experience, he is available to photograph weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, portraits, families, in addition to corporate, commercial and other editorial projects.

Find him on his Facebook Fan Page: or see his work at Art Through Photography]