By Anita Oh

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The NFL Draft has been the talk of the town but Thursday, a historic sporting event kicked off at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field: the 123rd annual Penn Relays.

Proudly representing their schools, athletes from across the country competed in the event.

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“You hear everybody talk about it, like, ‘Oh, the Penn Relays, the Penn Relays!’ But to actually be here, see everyone here is just amazing and to know all that hard work you’re about to do is going right here on that track,” said Nefertari Bowen, a junior at Pennsauken High School.

This is the first time Bowen is competing in the Penn Relays.

“It’s eat, sleep,and drink, running, wake up, then running. It’s dedication, family. Running is just a great sport,” she said.

And running in the event has been a dream for Kristina Boafo, who for the first time, had a chance to represent West Orange High School.

“Running on this track means so much to me, because I came as a sophomore as an alternate, as a junior as an alternate, and this is my first time running as a senior,” Boafo said.

Boafo is planning to run track and field at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

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Others came from further away.

Sashel Brown moved from Jamaica to attend Auburn University; this is her sixth year at the Penn Relays.

“It’s a passion, it’s a stress reliever, and it’s a way out,” said Brown, “I have a scholarship at Auburn University.”

Though this is a storied and successful event each year, some athletes felt overshadowed by the NFL Draft hosted in Philadelphia on the same days.

“A little bit, it’s unfortunate, but I think we kill it no matter what,” said Olivia Stanek. “Every sport is a good thing so I’m glad people are getting involved.”

For some, the only competition they face is the person in the mirror.

“My message is that no matter how many times people beat you down and tell you – you can’t do it – you can always prove them wrong,” Boafo said.

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The Penn Relays continue through Saturday evening.