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Penn Relays Tickets
Location: Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pa.
Number of Athletes Who Compete Each Year: 15,000+
Notable Athletes Who Have Competed: Jesse Owens, Usain Bolt, Wilma Rudolph, Allyson Felix, Michael Johnson, Sanya Richards-Ross
Penn Relays TicketsThe Penn Relays put relay races on the map. First presented on April 21, 1895, to inaugurate Franklin Field, the University of Pennsylvania’s new football field, the event’s other objective was to revive interest in track. A record-setting crowd of 5,000 for a track meet in Philadelphia came to watch. Among the races were nine relays: four for high school boys and prep schools and four for collegians and the college championship. Harvard beat the host team Penn in the 4x400-yard contest. By 1900, other relay races were added as well as more individual events. Junior high students were soon invited to participate, and before long, field events were on the schedule. Olympians came, too. In 1928, America’s Charley Paddock, who had won two golds at the 1920 Olympics, broke his own world record in the 175-yard dash. Paavo Nurmi, the great Olympian from Finland, won the two-mile and three-mile races in 1929. Make StubHub your source for tickets to the Penn Relays.
Who were the first international competitors?A team from Oxford University won the four-mile relay in 1914.
How long does the event last?The 2020 Penn Relays are scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, April 23-25. Most of the action gets under way on Thursday and continues Friday and Saturday. While some championships are held on Thursday and Friday, much of the day on Thursday is for qualifying heats in some events. Thursday is also when many distance races are run at night. Friday brings more preliminaries in many running events for all classifications of schools below the college level as well as the finals for some field events. On Saturday, spectators see the championships for the spotlight events in addition to those for racewalks and many running events. Also contested are most championships in the field events for high school boys, college men and college women.
What are the marquee events?The college women’s 4x400, the high school boys’ 4x400 and the high school girls’ 4x800 are featured events. Another highly anticipated face-off occurs in The USA vs. The World, an event that began in 2020. Teams of athletes wearing their national uniforms take on the United States. Three of these relay races are for women, and three are for men.
What have been some of the most exciting recent moments?Usain Bolt returned in 2010 to run the anchor leg for Jamaica in the 4x100 as an Olympic gold medalist. Before a record-breaking crowd of 54,000, he ran his leg for the victorious Jamaicans in 10.79 seconds. Another unforgettable moment came in 2007 during the high school boys’ 4x400 championship. Three of the four fastest qualifying teams were from Jamaica. Long Beach Polytechnic High School of California was the fourth-ranked team. By the end of a close race, Long Beach Poly had won in an upset with a time of 3:09:89. The director of the Penn Relays later called it the greatest race he had ever seen in 40 years of watching runners. He also said that the crowd was the loudest he had ever heard.
What are some Penn Relays milestones?The first women’s race was the 100-yard dash in 1962 with Willye White besting eight other runners in 10.9 seconds. The following year, race organizers introduced the women’s Olympic Development relay, and in 1964, the girls’ 440-yard relay was run for the first time. Greg Bell, who won the Olympic gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Games in the long jump, also won that event three times from 1956 through 1958.
Why are the Penn Relays sometimes referred to as "The Carnival"?When the event began, tents encircling the field served as changing rooms. Also, there has always been a fun atmosphere surrounding the event. In 1910, it was officially named the Relay Race Carnival, and later, it was called the Penn Relay Carnival. That tradition and sensibility continue today with Carnival Village on the event grounds while vendors on surrounding streets sell their wares.
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