Ask Benny: Why should I care about the Penn Relays?

Dear Benny,
I’m new to Penn and have heard the Penn Relays are just around the corner. The thing is, I don’t know much about the event. So tell me—what’s the big deal?
—Don't Know Anything About Track

Dear Potential Relay Fan,
The Penn Relays are one of the biggest social events of the year in Philadelphia, and one of the signature meets in all of track and field.

This year’s Relays got underway April 28 and run through May 1. If you go check it out—and you should—you’ll see one of the sports world’s great annual traditions.

Launched in 1895, the Penn Relays were initially conceived as a way to revive interest in track and field among Penn students. We don’t know how much today’s Penn student cares about the event, but we do know plenty of others do. Last year, for instance, the Relays drew a new three-day record crowd of 112,701. On Saturday alone—traditionally the biggest day of the Relays—50,000 people packed Franklin Field.

So what’s the draw? Simple. The Relays showcase some of the top running talent in the world. Participants have won gold medals in every modern summer Olympic games, with the exception of the U.S.-boycotted 1980 games in Moscow. In the 2004 games, 23 of them won gold medals. Last year’s event drew such running superstars as Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin and Jon Drummond. The event also draws international stars and features local and national high school and college athletes, as well. In short, it’s the biggest track and field event in America.

Ticket packages range from $12 to $40, but a PennCard will get you in free. For more information, go to

Originally published on April 28, 2005