The Penn Relays – So Much History, So Much Modernity
I grew in Philly, home of the Penn Relays. This annual event, for the uninitiated, is arguably America’s foremost track meet. It was 1st held in 1895!
While I had a brief and unillustrious track career as a member of my jr. high school’s 440 relay team, self-dubbed “The Speed Boys” (Yes, I was the slowest boy), I always had an appreciation for the Penn Relays and respect for the athletes who competed there every year. It was hometown pride, too.
Thirty years later (I’m 48 now), my respect is unchanged and my appreciation has matured. Age (and bad knees) will do that.
I’ve lived a good part of my adult life in New York and Los Angeles. I returned to Philly 8 years ago to start Team Sports Planet. Honestly, prior to moving back, I’d kind of forgotten about The Penn Relays. It’s cool that my appreciation for them has been reinvigorated.
If any of you have the chance to visit Philly for this event, you’ll definetly get a kick out of them. It’s a festival for the senses. Great sights, sounds and the occasional pounding of the heart. All taking place on the University of Pennsylvania’s storied campus, just minutes from the historical heartland of Philly’s downtown area.
What’s new and exciting about the event – or more so the athlete’s—is the parade of ultra modern fabrications that are represented, in a wide and colorful swath each day of the event (Okay, the occasional thunderstorm, can dampen the display, but nonetheless…).
Perhaps second only to swimming in the need for ergonomic sensibility, track uniforms have been at the forefront of modern fabrication technologies and design architecture. In particular for sprinters, where wind resistance is the enemy.
Go to Franklin Field during the Penn Relays this year (they start on April 19th), and you be treated to a smorgasbord of styles, in bright colors, reflecting the efforts of hundreds of schools, thousands of coaches, athletic directors and, of course, the athletes themselves as they fight the foe that is, in a word, wind.
Blends of Spandex, Lycra, Nylon and more are calibrated to wring peak performance from the nation’s best track performers. While Olympic aspirations justly fill the minds of some participants, almost all can proudly strut their stuff in the fashion forward world of modern track uniforms.
And every year, for….oh, about the past 114 years or so…they’ve done it in my hometown…in Philly @ the Penn Relays.
Sports Uniform Guy