WHAT: The Penn Relays, now in its 117th year, is the oldest collegiate track meet in the United States. Officially known as the Penn Relay Carnival, the event attracts more than 22,000 track and field stars from the junior high school, high school, college, senior and professional levels. Athletes from more than 60 countries will be participating in the three-day event.
WHEN AND WHERE: April 28 to 30 at Franklin Field, 33rd and South streets. View a slideshow on Flickr of some of last year's events.
CATCH THE STARS: NCAA track and fieldchampions will participate in the college competitions. Visitors can watch teams such as Penn, Villanova, Oregon, Tennessee and South Carolina compete. Over the years, world-class athletes also have honed their skills at the Penn Relays. Last year, three-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt electrified the crowd during the "USA vs. the World" event. This year there will be stars, and emerging stars, from countries including the United States, Jamaica, Canada and Trinidad. The list of participants will be finalized during the week of the Relays, so check the website, thepennrelays.com, to find out which of the world's top athletes will be on the track.
HEY, HEY, HEY: Actor-comedian, native Philadelphian and former Penn Relays participant Bill Cosby is expected to drop in some time during the meet, as he does almost every year.
TICKETS: Purchase tickets at the Penn Relays website, thepennrelays.com, or call 855-UOFPTIX (855-863-7849) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
STAFF & FACULTY PERK: Show your PennCard and get into the Relays for free on Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29. If you bring one child to Penn's "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" on April 28, you and your child can attend the Penn Relays. For each additional child, it costs $5.
EAT ON THE RUN: Vendors in the Carnival Village, located near The Palestra, will be selling a variety of taste budtickling foods to nourish hungry runners and spectators. Chow down on Jamaican jerk chicken, rice and beans, as well as the usual stadium fare of hamburgers, hotdogs and fries. The Carnival Village is only accessible to people who have entered the Penn Relays with a ticket or a PennCard.
IT'S LIKE BEING THERE: During the 33 hours of competition, there is an average of one race every five minutes. If you can't be at Franklin Field, check out the Penn Relays website to see live action on the track, get up-to-the-minute results, read blogs and view on-demand video.
TRAFFIC ALERT: More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the three-day event. Pedestrian and vehicle traffic will be heavy, especially on 33rd Street, from Chestnut to Spruce streets. Consider taking public transportation.
Originally published on April 21, 2011