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WeHub will provide the official communications channel for this weekend's Penn Relays.

The Penn Relays began in 1895 and have grown to become the largest annual track meet in the world. Steeped in prestige and tradition, the Relays regularly attract over 100,000 spectators throughout the multi-day event.

WeHUB is a local tech startup founded in 2014 by 2014 Wharton MBA graduate Hagen Lee, an upstart social messaging app looking to carve its own niche in a world dominated by Facebook and Twitter.

At face value, the two entities — one a sports giant, the other a tech underdog — may not seem to have much in common. So it may have taken some by surprise when it was announced that the Penn Relays would be partnering with WeHub, exclusively using the app to send out official announcements throughout the weekend.

According to those involved, though, it should come as no surprise.

“As the first and oldest of relay meets, the Penn Relays has always tried to stay at the forefront of advances and our new alliance with WeHub reflects this mission,” Director of the Relays Dave Johnson said in a statement.

That’s because — according to Lee — the two share more than meets the eye.

“We’re a Penn startup, and they really heard about us through word of mouth,” he said. “They’re really forward thinking.”

Logistically, the partnership will allow the organizers of the Relays to communicate directly with the event’s overwhelming crowds.

“This year, we anticipate attendance at the Penn Relays to top 110,000,” Johnson said. “WeHub will help us stay connected with everyone at Franklin Field and the surrounding Carnival Village in real time.”

However, Lee hopes that his app’s impact extends well beyond simple logistical matters.

“It’s great to have an official channel for Penn Relays,” Lee said. “But I’m more interested in the human drama.

“There will be 150,000 people, and they’ll all be seeing different things. And they can snap videos and take pictures ... of their experience. When they post it, that’s going to be a plethora of rich content through the eyes of fans and users and athletes, and not just the eyes of NBC’s lens.”

One can imagine the “rich content” that could have been generated during last year’s Relays, particularly during the event’s wild Saturday. As the USA men’s 4x100-meter relay team narrowly defeated the Jamaican squad, the reactions from the crowd varied drastically, from exultation to shocked disbelief.

But the comparisons between WeHUB and Penn Relays do not continue indefinitely. Notably, the Relays are already the largest entity of its kind in the world, while WeHub is still relatively small and looking to aggressively grow.

“We’re a tech startup, so we have to do more with less,” WeHUB’s Vice President Robbie Stone said. “We wear a lot of different hats.”

The app utilizes a variety of platforms – from pictures to video to text messaging – but Lee asserts that its central appeal is simple.

“It’s literally the fastest way for you to be seen and for you to see what’s going on within your 100-mile radius,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter [if you have] 10 people, 100 people or 1,000 people,” he added. “We can group you with one push of a button.”

Which seems to hint at the greatest similarity between WeHUB and the Penn Relays: their passion for forming connections.

And forget 1,000 people. Over the next three days, over 100,000 fans – both young and old, U.S.-born and foreign – will come together based on one shared connection: track and field.

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