Erika Ackerlund poses during a training session at a Missoula pool

Erika Ackerlund poses during a training session at a Missoula pool this past August.

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Helena native Erika Ackerlund of Missoula placed 11th last month at Florida's Sarasota World Cup, with a clocking of 2:11:52 for a standard distance duathlon.

"Thirty-five females started the race, but a number were forced to drop out due to the heat and humidity," related Ackerlund, who was the 2016 NCAA national triathlon champion for the University of Montana. "I had gone to compete in the Olympic distance triathlon, but at the athlete meeting two days before we learned that the water had unhealthy levels of algae so we couldn't swim."

So instead the athletes competed in a duathlon race consisting of a 5K run, a 40K bike and a 10K run.

"However, both runs were longer than they were meant to be because of slight changes they made to the course," noted the former Helena High distance runner and swimmer, "so I was out there a long time."

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Ackerlund, 22, was the IR's 2016 Female Athlete of the Year, and now competes in the Elite category of triathletes.

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