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April 14, 2015

Runners, spectators race to University City for Penn Relays

Three-day carnival returns for its 121st year

Events Penn Relays
042315_PennRelays_Carroll-26.jpg Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Hign school girls compete in a 4X400 heat at the nation's largest and oldest track and field meet, the Penn Relays, which kicked off Thursday, April 23, 2015 at the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field.

Once a year athletes from around the world compete in more than 400 track and field events at the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field. The Penn Relays, which attract tens of thousands of participants and spectators each day, will descend upon University City, April 23 through April 25.

Featuring more competitors than the Olympic Games, the Penn Relays include short and long-distance races plus field events like the javelin throw, pole vault and long jump. Participating athletes range from fourth-graders to septuagenarians, competing in grade school, high school, collegiate, Olympic Development, Special Olympics and amateur levels. 

RELATED GALLERY: The 121st annual Penn Relays 

During race days, the area around Franklin Field turns into a carnival for spectators with street vendors selling merchandise, fan gear and food with sponsors hosting giveaways and games. Athletes and their fans traipse around in their school or national colors and the whole area buzzes with excitement for the upcoming races.

Don't miss the races which pit Jamaican competitors against U.S. competitors - their friendly rivalry always gets the crowd roaring in anticipation and good-spirited fun. On the final day of the relays, look out for famous faces. In previous years, Olympic athletes like Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix have made appearances as professional entries, though this info is kept tightly sealed until race day. 

Penn Relays

Thursday, April 23 through Saturday, April 25
Race times vary | $18-65
Franklin Field
235 S. 33rd St.