4. Penn Relays
The Penn Relays officially began in 1895, but the idea was formed two years earlier. The University of Pennsylvania had held intramural relays before, but in 1893, UPenn decided to invite Princeton to compete in a one-mile relay race. That quickly expanded to a meet of four high schools and four colleges, taking part in nine relay events. Now, the men’s division alone has nearly 30 events.
One factor that contributed to the growth of the Penn Relays was another historic American sporting event. In 1899, the annual Army-Navy game was held at Franklin Field, the site of the Relays, and bleachers were built to fit the crowd, which doubled as even more seating for those attending the track events.
The Penn Relays left its imprint not just on the American landscape, but also on track and field itself, paving the way it is run today. In 1910, they introduced a 20-foot passing zone for runners to tag their teammates for the next leg of the race -- it was then adopted in the 1912 Olympics. It also was a precursor to the NCAA National Championship Track Meet, which began in 1921.
The the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States, the Penn Relays welcomed over 40 men's and women's teams earlier this year for its 114th running.