Gallery: Opening night at the 124th Penn Relays

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Through the lens of acclaimed photographer David Bracetty

The Penn Relay Carvnival, or the Penn Relays as it's more commonly known, is back for the 124th edition of the event in 2018.

The opening day features mostly high school events, but comes alive in the evening with the running of the College Women's Distance Medley, a twilight event Villanova has won five of the last six years.

TEMPO had photographer David Bracetty on deck to catch all the emotion from a great opening night at Penn.

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The stands are empty, the air is still. The lights over Franklin Field set the stage for the hundreds of athletes looking to use some of that Penn Relays magic to carry them to something special. For some of them that’s a PR, for others it's a school record. After a long and brutal winter in the Northeast US, the weather has finally cooperated and gifted these athletes with conditions they’ve hoped for over their cold winter mileage.

The gun goes off and a sea of athletes rip off the line to meet their destiny. Some of the fields look more like road races, the athletes lined up three rows deep. You know the gods are on your side if you land a spot on the actual line or even within the first 10 lanes.

The sounds of splits and analysis provides the soundtrack to the stadium between races. During, it’s the sound of lungs on fire. It’s the sound of coaches yelling in desperation for their athlete to react. Their distance night performance balances on the edge of a knife.

A shift in pace, a break from the pack, a slow lap, a glimmer of hope. The storied past of the great races, alumni performances and personal bests fuels athletes who are riding the redline with 1200 to go.

Penn Relays distance night isn’t for the faint of heart; it will chew you up and spit you out if you aren’t ready. It reveals true fitness and tests your character.

David Bracetty

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To catch the next couple of days of racing at Penn Relays, check out David's Instagram, or for results check USATF TV.

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