Palmer’s Cody Priest. Photo by Mike McCann

Cody Priest of Anchorage came back from the most famous trail race in the world impressed not only by the spectacle but also how many fast runners there were.

“The race was insanely deep because you have to qualify and/or lottery entry from other races,” Priest said after placing 83rd over the weekend at the 100-kilometer CCC in Chamonix, France. “During almost the entire race you are able to see other racers in front and behind you.”

Priest is accustomed to being at or near the front — he won the Wasatch 100-miler in Utah in 2021 — so being surrounded by others a ways off the front was a new experience. Still, he was pleased to finish the 62-mile race in 14 hours, 8 minutes and 49 seconds.

The CCC – short for Courmayeur/Champex/Chamonix — is billed as the “little sister” to the 100-mile Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB). However, it offers plenty of challenge with more than 20,000 feet of vertical gain along with high altitude and technical trail.

Priest placed 17th in the 35-39 age group and 65th among men. More than 2,200 runners started and 1,650 finished.

Priest ranked around 100th place at the early checkpoints and worked his way up to 71st by Vallorcine (mile 50) before dropping back a little as fatigue set in.

“I was super solid all day, but that last 10 miles I fell apart and couldn’t eat as well as I wanted and slowed down a lot,” Priest said by text on Tuesday after returning to Alaska.

In a sport that is generally solitary in nature, Priest also appreciated the crowd support.

“The sheer numbers of people cheering were mind boggling,” he said.

Priest wasn’t the only Alaskan in Chamonix.

Cody Priest at UTMB finish.

Denali Strabel of Palmer also entered CCC but was undone by illness. She dropped out after more than 8 hours and 54 kilometers of running.

“For hours (close to 20 miles), I fought vomiting and made it to more aid stations than my stomach wanted me to,” Strabel said on Facebook.

Corbyn Jahn of Anchorage had a different problem: widespread cramping in the 55-kilometer OCC.

“My inner thighs, hamstrings and calf muscles took turns seizing as I tried to keep moving,” Jahn wrote on Facebook. “Things would release for a bit and I’d attempt to run until things locked up again.”

Jahn considered dropping out but soldiered on and finished 220th overall in 7 hours and 3 minutes.

Two top performers had connections to Alaska in that they’ve run the Mount Marathon Race. Yngvild Kaspersen of Norway dominated the CCC women’s race, winning in 11:51. She raced Mount Marathon in 2016, placing second.

And Zach Miller of Colorado, this year’s runner-up in the marquee UTMB 100-miler, had less success at Mount Marathon this year, taking 22nd about 6 ½ minutes behind the champion David Norris.

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