Essay: Penn Relays

Published by MJR on August 6th, 2008 in Essay, Photos | 9 Comments »

“The Penn Relays is the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States, hosted annually since 1895 by the University of Pennsylvania at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It regularly attracts more than 15,000 participants from high schools, colleges, and track clubs throughout North America and abroad, notably Jamaica, competing in more than 300 events over five days. Historically, the event has been credited with popularizing the running of relay races. It is held during the last full week of April. Attendance typically tops 100,000 over the final three days.”

Source: Wikipedia, the free content encyclopedia.

This essay focuses on the athletic abilities as well as the physical and emotional consequences of competitive track and field at the annual Penn Relays.


“Penn Relays 2008″ by Mustafah Abdulaziz


Caption: A runner leads the pack during the Women’s 4×400 Championship.

Caption: High school athletes from Delaware stretch in the earling morning of the second day of the event.

Caption: A long jumper searches for his results on the board after his leap.

Caption: Coaches and athletes search the board for their scores and placement.

Caption: A Eastside High School athlete breaks down in the underground areas of Franklin Fields stadium after loosing in the 4×100 competition.

Caption: Taking advantage of the cool subterranean tunnels of Franklin Fields, female college athletes stretch, lay down and hydrate before their 4×400 competition.

Caption: A Brooklyn High School coach yells from the stands during her team’s 4×100 competition.

Caption: High school athletes are rounded and processed for competition.

Caption: Seconds after running, a college athlete collapses near the sidelines.

Caption: Wolmer’s Boys athletes from Kingston, Jamaica, during their 4×400 run.

Caption: A college athlete after placing 4th in the pole vault.

Caption: Winners of the 2008 Women’s 4×400 Championship celebrate.

“Penn Relays” by Mustafah Abdulaziz/MJR

9 Responses to “Essay: Penn Relays”

  1. matt Says:

    August 6th, 2008 at 11:46 am

    the tones on this are really harsh.. the highs are blowing on the mbp.. but considering you probably edited this on YOUR macbook pro.. one of ours is in need of calibration!!

    i love these images.. but i still think #1 is your single and should run full blast color!!!

    you know the rest


  2. hugh Says:

    August 6th, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Tones look spot-on via my monitor, Mustafah. Love the drama the contrast gives this series. The wolmer’s boys 4×400 and that poll vaulter are so good.

  3. Harry Says:

    August 6th, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    great reportage as always. Whenever I see a new post from one of you guys, it always makes me rethink my compositions. Truly inspirational stuff.

    p.s. I could be totally off here, but I agree with matt – some of the tones are very harsh, is this intentional or is it just my monitor in need of calibration?

  4. Seb Says:

    August 7th, 2008 at 8:46 am

    toning, contrasts and composition are stunning. what a great series. really like your style!

    personal favorites: &

  5. mustafah Says:

    August 7th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    @matt: yeah they are pretty high-key but my monitor is likely not calibrated lately and (on mine) they appear to retain minor detail in the highlights. i’m planning to go through this essay for fall contests and likely will submit in color, medium to high contrast. that is, if i can track down the originals. i swear, there’s a bloody phantom on my hard drives, rearranging everything.

    @hugh & harry: the Wolmer’s boys shot was something an extension of my current experimentation in composition. this entire essay was shot on one lens, except for the lead shot (135 f/2). i found that by doing this, i honed my vision more towards what i wanted to communicate and tried to keep it along those lines.

    i’m a bit of a stickler for high contrast, which isn’t for everyone but to be fair, everything done in moderation seems to be the best choice. thanks for the feedback, i’m going to think about this…

  6. mahomo Says:

    August 8th, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    wonderful, the long jump shot is absolutely beautiful :D

  7. Calvin Sun Says:

    August 11th, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Beautiful coverage!!

  8. Mikko Says:

    August 12th, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Mustafah, great stuff. The first one especially and the one of the girl crying on the ground. Sure, the contrast is high, but I totally dig it. I think you need to teach me how to make proper black and white conversions. Mine always end up looking too greyscale…