It's the athletes they remember most.

The Penn Relays, in its 122nd running this year, are notable for the thousands of fans who swamp the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field in their team colors for three days every spring.

The Relays are known for "Wooo Corner," the stretch of track approaching the finish line where fans gather in the stands to cheer and yell 'Wooo' as their runners speed by.

They are known for memorable rainstorms and beautiful sun-splashed April afternoons.

Mostly, though, people remember the athletes. Rich Stephens in the 1973 mile relay. Brooklynn Broadwater in the 2015 400-meter hurdles. Kim Gallagher in the 1979 mile. Tom Franchetti in the 1976 4x400 relay.

"I come here every year because [athletes] from all over the world come here," said 75-year-old Edwin Roberts, a Relays champion himself in the 1960s and a race official since the 1970s. "This is like another Olympics."

Steve French is making his 57th consecutive appearance at Franklin Field. A distance runner at Central, Class of 1961, and La Salle College, Class of 1965, French was a coach at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor and is now an assistant at Holy Spirit High in Absecon.

Also a Relays race official, he recalls a cold and windy day, much like Thursday's weather this year, on which his 1973 Carroll team unexpectedly won the Philadelphia Catholic League 4x400 relay.

"Led by Rich Stephens, who went on to run at La Salle College, we were able to beat a really good team from Cardinal Dougherty," French said.

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy coach Bob Shoudt, Pennridge High, Class of 1958, won a scholastic state title as coach of Norristown High in 1970. He still wears the iconic Penn Relays watch he was awarded at the 1976 Relays as an honoree high school referee.

The coach of the Villanova University women's team from 1981 to 84, he still talks about his 1984 distance medley relay team that won in 10 minutes, 53.27 seconds, the sixth-best all-time mark in that event.

And then there was last year, when Broadwater, a Springside Chestnut Hill star and Tennessee recruit, won the 400 hurdles in 1:00.69, beating the time of the touted Junelle Bromfield of St. Elizabeth Tech, Jamaica.

"That," Shoudt said with a shake of his head, "was a total surprise. She wasn't even in the seeded heat."

Ed Ulmer, the Archbishop Ryan coach since 1966, recalls the drama of winning the Philadelphia Catholic League 4x400 relay in 1976, when Franchetti leaned and then tumbled to the finish line to account for the victory.

"I went up to Tom immediately afterward, and he said to me, 'I don't know if I won, but I do know that I've got of lot of the track on my knees and body,' " Ulmer said. "We didn't find out we had won until a half-hour later."

Greg Green, the former coach at St. Basil Academy, said he can still see the late Kim Gallagher circling the track far out in front in the 1979 mile run.

A star at Upper Dublin High who went on to medal in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, Gallagher won that race in an astonishing 4:49.20.

"She ran like a gazelle, was a real natural," Green said. "She was one of a kind."

Fred Rosenfeld said he has not missed a Relays since 1970. A former coach at Philadelphia's Overbrook and Central High Schools, he recalls climbing into the stands over the years for "reunions" and chatting up the old heads who return year after year.

"These guys were maybe 80 years old, and they had been to 50 Penn Relays," Rosenfeld said. "It's been 122 years. How many things in this world go 122 years?"

Edwin Roberts is from Trinidad, once coached at Northeast High and now lives in Abington. He said he first ran at the Relays in 1963 with the North Carolina Central University team.

"The track was cinders back then," said Roberts, who went on to win bronze medals in the 200 and 4x400 relay at the 1964 Olympic Games and returned to Penn in the Relays' Masters Division.

Pennsauken High coach Clinton Tabb said he tells his athletes to take a snapshot of the scene each year and tuck it away in their memory banks.

"I always tell our kids to soak it in," Tabb said. "On Saturday, the South Jersey [4x400] races will be run in front of 30,000 people.

"That's the experience of a lifetime."

@ozoneinq