Penn Relays

The Penn Relay Carnival, better known as the Penn Relays, is one of Philadelphia’s most anticipated annual events. Originally held in 1895 as a dedication celebration for Franklin Field, the Relays have taken place during the final weekend of April for more than a century.



Through 117 editions of the meet, more athletes have run at the Penn Relays than any other single track and field event in the world. More spectators have watched the meet than any other in the world, too, except for the Olympics and the World Championships, and the Penn Relay Carnival remains a favorite of fans both young and old.



penn relay photo by scott spitzer This year, Penn freshman Maalik Reynolds made the history books by winning first place in the college high jump Championship of America. His 2.22-meter leap (7 feet, 3 1/4 inches) made him the first Penn high-jumper to win at the Relays since 1955. Reynolds enjoyed his victory in front of about 48,500 fans, and is now aiming to compete at the NCAA championships, the USA championships and the Pan-American Games.

Perhaps the biggest attraction of the Penn Relays is the “USA vs. The World” competition, which traditionally occurs on Saturday afternoon. Stars who have run since its inception in the 1990s read like a who’s who of Olympic and World Championships. They include Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Carl Lewis, Justin Gatlin, Marion Jones, Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards.

Video by Kurtis Sensenig
Photos by Scott Spitzer