Dean Potter Sets New Half Dome Running Record (2:17:52

A surprising new Half Dome record has been set by Dean Potter, a man not known for running. On May 3, 2015, Potter shaved 5:59 off the previous Fastest Known Time (FKT) of 2:23:51 by Kyle Williams. Dean reached the summit in 1:19 and completing the round trip back to the Valley floor in 2:17:52. Potter has held many speed climbing records in Yosemite, including The Nose of El Capitan, and now holds the prestigious Half Dome running record. He carried no food or water and wore only a pair of shorts, socks and shoes with Stealth™ sticky rubber. Potter, an Adidas athlete, is a well-known rock climber, BASE-jumper and line-walker and is certainly not known for trail running. A regular runner in his youth, he stopped after becoming a mountain BASE-jumper, where most jumps include lengthy uphill approaches.

Dean, now 43, wanted to prove to himself he could break the record and set a new Fastest Known Time up Half Dome. Starting at the sign at the trailhead across from the old bridge at the gauging station near Happy Isles, Dean reached the official summit and finished back at the same sign. However, Potter innovated a new ascent path to the 8,844 foot summit combining running, fast-hiking and freesolo rock climbing. He reached the summit, which rises 4,737 feet above the Valley floor, about eight minutes faster than the previous record holder, Kyle Williams, who summited at 1:27:12.

Potter, a Yosemite local since 1993, has hiked Half Dome regularly over the past 22-years and knows the terrain well. “It’s possible I’ve been on Half Dome more than anyone else in the past few decades!” Potter plans to run the route weekly now, until he’s able to bring the record under 2:00:00 by foot.

“My route proves with the hybridization of climbing and running, major new milestones can be set. I got a lot of inspiration and encouragement from my friend and ultra-runner Scott Jurek. I’d love to train with him, or another world-class mountain runner, and see if we can lower the record below two hours using my new route.”

Dean, a wingsuit BASE-jumper and paraglider, also sees that the Half Dome round-trip FKT may one day be under 1:20. But for now, parachuting and paragliding are forbidden within our national parks, though Dean is at the forefront of pushing for their legalization and is an advocate for unity amongst all outdoor arts.

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