West Philadelphia sees the return of the Penn Relay

    The 2013 Penn Relays kicked-off Thursday morning inside Franklin Field in West Philadelphia.

    The three-day track-and-field event features amateur and professional athletes from the United States and beyond. It also draws tens of thousands of spectators who come to cheer on family members and enjoy the sport they love.

    As a series of high-school races got underway, Everton Brown sat in the bleachers with a big smile on his face. The Jamaica native has never missed the Penn Relays since moving to the United States nearly two decades ago.

    “This is my most important event of the year,” said Brown, who now lives just outside of the city in Cheltenham. “I will work Christmas. I will work Thanksgiving. I will not work Penn Relays week.”

    Brown said he’s comes every year to cheer on teams from both Jamaica and the United States, which have a longstanding rivalry with one other.

    Seated not far from Brown was Vicki Staggers of Jackson, N.J. She’s attended the Penn Relays for more than a decade.

    “Track is the ultimate sport,” said Staggers, who was joined by her sister. “They should have more televised events about track and field. Next to football, it’s there. It’s right at the top.”

    Kelly Horst, of Doylestown, came to watch her daughter compete. She’s a junior at Central Bucks West High School.

    She said her daughter is running in three events this year, including the 4×400 relay.

    “Last year they won it. So we’re very excited. Hope for a repeat of that,” said Horst with a laugh.

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