There's no shortage of big events to catch over the three days of Penn Relays this weekend, but with so much action going on, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide which ones are must-see. With that in mind, here are five events that you certainly won't want to miss.
1. Masters Mixed 100m dash 80 and older
Sometimes, slow and steady wins the race.
In this event, that’s certain to be true. Participants must be at least 80 years old, and although it won’t be the fastest 100-meter race you’ll ever see, this is an event that can’t be missed. These old folks will be putting on a display that is the culmination of nearly a century of training and conditioning, and are far and away among the fittest members of their age group.
The champion will likely have to run the distance in well-under half a minute to take home the gold, but viewers will likely be treated to over an entire minute of action as all 18 participants make their way towards the finish line. Last year, 81 year old Bobby Whilden won the race with a time of 14.65 seconds.
Unfortunately, there will be no centenarians in this year’s race, although George Scott will come close when he competes as a 97 year old. Scott and the rest of the runners will begin at 3:08 p.m. on Saturday.
2. USA vs. the World
Penn prides itself on being a University of the best and brightest students from around the world.
That’s all well and good, but we’re still just college students. If you actually want to see some people who are the best in the world at what they do, make sure to catch these events at Penn Relays. In years past, viewers have seen the likes of eight-time gold medalist Usain Bolt, who holds the world records in the 100m, 200m and 4×100m relay, grace Franklin Field.
This year’s contest will feature two USA teams taking on runners from a variety of countries including Guyana, Haiti, and Jamaica. If the best running in the world isn’t a big enough draw for you, then some good old fashioned patriotism might do the trick. Or, cheer on ‘the World’ team and see if the runners who travelled the furthest to get here can go the distance.
Either way, this is a must-see event, if only for a chance to potentially witness someone break a world-record.
3. College Women's 3000m
Penn women’s track is coming off of its first Ivy indoor championship in over two decades. They were led to victory by senior Abby Hong, who also won an individual in the 3000m along the way. Now, she’ll look to test her talents outdoors, against the best competition from around the country.
Over fifty runners from dozens of colleges will be competing in this event, and runners from around Division I will be participating. This includes schools like NC State from the ACC and Philadelphia-rival Villanova from the Big East.
It’ll definitely be worth it to come out, show some Penn pride, and support Abby Hong and Danielle Orie in this race. Oh, and it’s on Thursday at 8:35 p.m., so it shouldn’t interfere with any late-night reading day festivities.
4. College Men's 110m Hurdles Championship and Men's 3000m Steeplechase
Many people think that running is hard.
You know what’s hard? Running with stuff in the way. That’s exactly what you’ll get to see these athletes do in the hurdles and steeplechase. In the steeplechase, runners traverse a long distance while occasionally jumping over hurdles and running through puddles. It was invented and popularized in Ireland and the UK (like many obscure sports) and is meant to simulate a race from one church steeple to another.
While the 110m hurdles also has obstacles, it is a totally different animal. Here, runners have to achieve perfect form and stride length in order to run such a short distance at their top speed while avoiding the hurdles. The race is over so quickly that if they get caught up in one, their chances of winning are all but finished. It’s a thrilling and technically difficult race that will be a fascinating opportunity for any track aficionado.
The steeplechase will be held on Thursday at 7:40 p.m. and the 110m hurdles will be held on Saturday at 3:20 p.m.
5. High School Boys' and Girls’ 4x100 Championship of America
Sure, sure, high school was a million years ago and you’re way too cool and old now to watch high schoolers run track.
But, how many high schoolers did you know that got to Philadelphia for a national championship race? Here, every high schooler will have been among the best in their home town, and will be put to the test at Penn Relays. At such a young age, competing at such a high level is a physical and mental achievement that should be lauded.
The event to watch is the 4x100m relays. Not only are these high schoolers some of the fastest in the country, but they’re on a team with three other high schoolers that have to work together to accomplish an incredible achievement. The events will be at 1:45 and 2:27 p.m. on Saturday.