Weekend Watch: Jamaica Runs the Penn Relays

April 25, 2014

Words by Jesse Serwerโ€”

2010 Penn Relays

Few days are capable of filling Jamaicans, and especially Jamaicans living in the U.S., with more pride than the Saturday of the Penn Relays. The annual track and field event, held at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field in Philadelphia since 1895 (yes, it’s been happening at the same place since 1895; this year’s edition is the 120th) has been taken over by Team Jamaica in recent years, offering the U.S. its first glimpse of Jamaica’s top runners including Usain Bolt.

The event, also (appropriately) known as the Penn Relays Carnival, is something of an annual pilgrimage for Jamaican-Americans in the Northeast (and occasionally beyond), who make the trip to Pennsylvania to root on family members and alma maters, or just to generally show support for Team Jamaica. Outside of the field grounds and in other locations around Philly, sound systems set up and play reggae, while Jamaican eateries from around the region serve up jerk chicken and patties for hungry attendees both yardie and otherwise. Whether you’re on your way to Philly, or never been, these videos-featuring Bolt, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce and the University of Technology (UTech) team are sure to give you an idea of what the vibes will be like come Saturday.