Kyle Williams Sets New Half Dome Running Record (2:23:51)

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The Half Dome record has fallen once again with a new fastest know time (FKT) of 2:23:51. On September 28, 2014, 21 year-old trail runner Kyle Williams, originally from Walnut Creek, CA, shaved over four minutes off Rickey Gate's time. The run from Happy Isles to the top of Half Dome and back is to Yosemite running what the Nose is to speedclimbing - the most sought-after record in the park.

A grueling run with a couple of very steep sections and maddening sand on the one really flat part, even the record setters have generally walked at least a portion. Kyle says that he had hiked Half Dome 5 or 6 times before, which I think is a definite help. It's a tough trail to run fast "onsight". That said, Rickey Gates and Hari Mix (FKT prior to Ryan Ghelfi) both onsighted the run (Rickey ran the Mist Trail the day before but had never done the whole trail).

Kyle was a standout high-school runner who was subsequently plagued by injuries from 2011 until earlier this year. Kyle says

It seemed like I never managed to string together more than a week or two of training. This summer I have been lucky and persistent enough to enjoy a streak of healthy running. So it was only near the end of my stay in Yosemite that I realized I might be strong and healthy enough to give the record a shot.

Rain the previous night helped a bit in that the soft sand going through Little Yosemite Valley was firmed up, but it also made some areas less secure.

I fell coming down the Mist Trail, hitting my right knee, shoulder, and head. Obviously I didn't pause my watch during any of the run.

This is the first FKT in the "permit era" for Half Dome and I was wondering how that would work. Kyle says: "The ranger that does the permits saw me from a distance
and I was able to shout my information and not have to stop, which was nice." Things were getting pretty chilly by then and Kyle says "It was difficult to eat and run at the same time because my jaw was too cold
to effectively chew the Shot Bloks. I ended up feeling dizzy going up the
Sub-Dome so I started hiking and ate the rest of them." Kyle adds that he thinks "there is potential for the trail to be run in 2:15 or even 2:10.
Someone like Kilian Jornet could probably go under 2:00." We'll see about that!

Splits for Last Three Half Dome Records

As you can see from the splits, Kyle managed to shave some time off Rickey's record on the ascent, but really crushed it on the descent, which accounts for most of the difference between the times.

Split times for last three FKTs on Half Dome
Landmark Ryan Rickey Kyle
Vernal Footbridge 7:17 7:54 6:46
Top of Vernal 17:16 16:05
Bathrooms at top of Mist Trail 34:04 32:00
"2 Mile" sign 1:00:28 56:00
Base of Subdome 1:18:20 1:12:24
Base of Cables     1:20:48
Summit 1:32:54 1:28:47 1:27:12
Base of Cables     1:30:19
Base of Subdome     1:35:10
"2 Mile" sign     1:44:20
Top of Mist Trail (bathrooms)     2:01:54
Vernal Footbridge     2:19:22
Descent 57:56 59:31 56:39
Total 2:30:50 2:28:18 2:23:51

Kyle was also kind enough to supply a link to his Garmin Connect recording of the run. If you've ever run this trail with a GPS, you know that coming up the Vernal Fall area and sometimes by Nevada Fall the GPS flakes out and bounces around the canyon, so speed and distance can get crazy, but the overall time is accurate.

Food and Gear

  • Vanilla Gu 20min
    before starting
  • 22oz water bottle
  • Set of Clif Shot
    Bloks.
  • Saucony Fastwitch 6 shoes.
  • Garmin ForeRunner 910XT

Congratulations Kyle!

Past stories

If you're a runner planning to run Half Dome, check out the page on Ryan's run and scrool down to the comments, which have a lot of advice from various runners.

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