This week in Philadelphia thousands of track and field athletes will gather to compete in the Penn Relays, the largest event of its kind in the United States. Since 1895, athletes from across the country and the globe have traveled to southeastern Pennsylvania on the last weekend of April to test their speed and agility among elite competition.
Estimates are that this year’s festivities will bring approximately 17,000 athletes and 115,000 spectators to West Philadelphia. The action is taking place at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field, located at 235 S. 33rd Street in University City, Philadelphia.
The event includes competitions for high school students, college students, Olympic hopefuls, and special Olympians. If you're not able to make the trek to Philly, you can follow the results on twitter @pennrelays.
One of the more popular events in recent years is the USA vs the World relay. This year's will be taking place at 12:30 pm on Saturday and broadcast live on NBCSN. There will be 4 x 100, 4 x 200, and 4 x 400 races, in both male and female divisions.
The event attracts a wide variety of participants, including 100 year old Ida Keeling. As the New York Times reports, Ms. Keeling has been running most of her life and is not about to let the century mark slow her down. Stories like these are what make the event memorable, and no doubt each one of the 17,000 athletes has a unique tale of obstacles and triumphs, all of which will come to a head in their events this weekend. As those speeding athletes careen around the Franklin Field track this weekend, they may appear from a distance to be little more than blurs of track shorts and singlets, but wise spectators will know the blood, sweat, and tears we can't see are what really propel them.