Thursday, May 1, 2008

On this day in history Penn Relays...

...a message back to England, via horse, that he landed in Philadelphia and had founded a new colony named Penn Sylvania. The famous relay occurred in 1680 and the messenger was instructed to "head northward towards where the cold comes from."

It took four months to travel north through New York colony then into what is now Canada on into Greenland and across the frozen extreme of the North Atlantic and south through present-day Norway. Finally, the messenger was ferried across the North Sea into England.

A journal written on colonial 3-hole punch notebook paper tell of the harrowing journey across the ice encrusted world to the north. "There is not much food here in the frigid cold north country. The horse is getting weaker and we haven't eaten or drank in over four weeks. I try to keep the mood light by throwing small snowballs at him. I notice that my English accent is not as noticeable up here. I'm cold. Who's there? Is someone there?"

The famous journey made by Habe Sutherland in 1680 is commemorated by a track and field event held each year at the University of Pennsylvania called the Penn Relays. This year's event took place just last week at Franklin Field.

Attempts to change the name of the track event to the Habe Sutherland Relays were met with mass protests in April of 1975. "Power of the Penn? Habe did the run," read one protester's sign.

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