At 3am, Laura Slavin‘s alarm went off, echoing into peaceful, sleepy darkness and putting the final nail into the coffin of her biggest fear: racing with zero sleep. She had made the decision to travel day-of down to Maryland’s Sugar Hill Papatsco race venue, three-and-a-half hours south.

The dark drive was brisk and she arrived to Papatsco with plenty of time to prepare. “I was bizarrely calm, zero nerves, which is unusual for me,” Laura said, “almost in Zombie Race Mode.”

Coach’s Orders: ‘Do not go out hard, hang back at your own pace, let stronger women go if they go.’ Laura was confident in this strategy, her first hilly race of the year — she remained relaxed even as they lined up.

Once the race started, the pro women bounded off into the woods and Laura spun smoothly up the climbs, strong, and she found herself slotted behind the top-two riders in the race, right behind Elite Endurance pro rider Kristine Contento-Angell, who already won numerous races this season.

Laura’s technical skills have vastly improved, and she was able to rip the descents with the leaders. Laura was able to make a pass on one of the climbs and surge smoothly into the lead, keeping it steady hard up the climbs, riding her own pace through the tech and always riding in control.

“I kept hearing the advice in my head,” Laura said, ” ‘don’t go out too hard, don’t crack. I used my energy wisely but it’s just so hilly here. By the final lap, I was worried I had made a mistake but I downed what was left in my Camelbak and just tried to throttle the final lap.”

Laura was able to keep a large gap and win by 9+ minutes. Kristine battled hard for 2nd and was able to score that result with a bike-throw at the line!

Elite Endurance finished 1st & 2nd in the Sugar Hill Pro MTB race!

Laura Slavin’s goal race for 2015 is mid-July’s XC MTB National Championships in Mammoth Mountain, CA.