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Normally, I don’t cover speed records unless they’re particularly extraordinary, because, really, who cares besides the athlete, their family, and their sponsors? But Dean Potter’s fastest-known-time up and down Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, which he set this weekend and shaved almost six minutes off the previous FKT, to two hours, 17 minutes, and 52 seconds, struck me as especially cool.

He used a combination of running, fast hiking, and climbing, carried no food or water, and wore just shorts, socks, and shoes. It was an elemental effort, and if none of us have the ability or willingness to free solo the way Potter does, we do have the innate tendency to be inspired by bold attempts.

And that’s what brings me to what caught my eye – the overview of Potter’s route. I’m not going to be soloing the Matterhorn, whose ascent record Dani Arnold shattered recently (route photo here), any time soon, but that route up Half Dome? Been there, know it, love it. When I see Potter’s path, I think, I know, that could be me.

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That little red line, it doesn’t show the record, or supernatural VO2 max rates, or extraordinary fitness. It just indicates a trail through the woods in a place that belongs to all of us, for all of us, open to all of us. Potter’s record is cool, but the fact that it’s just right there is cool, too.


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Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.