Penn Relays 2012

The excitement is palpable and the roar of the crowd is unforgettable during the Penn Relays each April at Franklin Field.

Officially known as The Penn Relay Carnival, the largest amateur track meet and oldest organized relay competition in the United States was established in 1895.It draws more than 100,000 fans annually, and can boast that it has hosted more track and field athletes than any other single meet in the world.

This year’s 118th Penn Relays, held April 26-28, featured more than 22,000 track and field stars from the junior high, high school, college, senior, and professional levels from more than 60 countries.

On April 28, the final day, world-class Olympic athletes and runners aspiring to compete in the summer games took their marks for the popular “USA versus the World” races. At the event, Penn President Amy Gutmann extended a special welcome to Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who watched several of the races from the stands crowded with fans waving Jamaican flags.

The relays pit teams of professional American track stars against the best international runners. Over the years, legends of track such as Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Carl Lewis, Justin Gatlin, Marion Jones, Allyson Felix, and Sanya Richards have competed in this event.

This year, Felix and reigning 100-meter world champion Carmelita Jeter ran on the American sprint team in the women’s 4×100-meter relay, joined by Francena McCorory, Jessica Beard and Bianca Knight. Team USA swept that race and five others. Felix also ran on a pair of relay teams that set new Penn Relays records.

Text by Jacquie Posey
Photos by Steve Minicola & Scott Spitzer