By Harry Allison

So, if the NFL draft is not your thing, how about another world-class even taking place today through Saturday out at Franklin Field:

Now in its 123rd year, the Penn Relay Carnival is the world’s first – and most widely recognized – annual relay meet.

Each year, this historic rite of spring draws crowds of up to 100,000 to Penn’s Franklin Field. Spectators know they’ll see some of the world’s top track athletes compete — and often begin Olympic careers.

Both athletes and fans hail from all over the country and the world. There’s an accompanying festival offering food and souvenirs.

Over the course of the three-day Penn Relays festival, top high school, collegiate, masters and even Olympic athletes take to Franklin Field for games like the 4 × 400 meters relay, javelin, pole vault, 100 meter dash, mile runs, sprints and more in hopes of bringing home a medal.

Perhaps the most anticipated race is the USA vs. World series of elite races.

Getting There

Take the Market-Frankford Subway line to 34th and Market streets and walk the few blocks to the track at 33rd and Spruce streets.

From the suburbs, SEPTA Regional Rail is one of the most convenient travel methods. Take the nearest line to 30th Street Station and it’s just a short walk to Franklin Field.

For those driving in, parking is plentiful. Parking garages are located at 3335 Chestnut Street, 4009 Walnut Street, 119 S. 38th Street and more. Click here for the full list of nearby parking garages. Street parking is also be available, but will be harder to find. For more information about parking and driving directions, click the button below.


The Penn Relays’ status as America’s largest amateur track meet goes back to the very first running meet, held in 1895 to stoke flagging student interest in track and field. That event drew 5,000 spectators, the largest audience for a track meet in Philadelphia up to that time.

The Relays have played an important role in Philly’s cultural life from the beginning. It was one of few major events that accepted African-American competitors, and it was one of the high points on the African-American social calendar.

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