When the United States was growing, men performed noble tasks like trekking the wilderness for new land or hunting wild game to feed their families. You too should feel the urge to tap into your manly ambitions -- you just lack the time of our forefathers. But if you're into sports like biking, skiing, or running, these intense races can serve as a way to feed your macho needs.

From the bright lights of Las Vegas to harrowing winter peaks, the following 10 endurance events embody the ruggedness that is manhood.

10 Most Rugged Races In North America Slideshow


Gore-Tex Grand Traverse

"We come to worship the church of pain," tout participants during the pre-race prayer of this backcountry ski traverse that begins at midnight in Colorado. The 40-mile track can take up to 16 hours of combing through the Rocky's Elk Mountain Range as racers climb more than 7,800 vertical feet through challenging terrain, including Death Path, a steep cliff where losing traction means sliding down 200 feet into a frigid creek. Participants must find their own route to checkpoints and know how to erect a camp within minutes. "Staying mentally alert at 4 a.m. and maintaining Zen with your partner are challenges that are often overlooked," says Bryan Wickenhauser, race co-director and three-time winner. Fast-track your strength gains and crank up your metabolism with this Hard-Body Hurricane Workout.


Tour d'Afrique North American Epic

About 20 cyclers will ride for more than 6,000 miles during the nearly four-month trek from Anchorage, Alaska, to Mexico City, Mexico. (Before you think about signing up, make sure you can cycle at least 60 miles per day for multiple days in a row.) The itinerary includes amazing locales like the remote Alaskan Highway, the Yukon Territory, Yellowstone, Utah's Canyonlands, the Grand Canyon, Baja’s cactus fields, and old colonial towns in central Mexico. You'll deal with fluctuating weather and road conditions -- one day you'll be fighting off swarms of mosquitos, a few days later combating dessert dust. By the time you make it to Mazatlan, a round of tequila is in order. Want to start bicycling for transportation? Here's a list of things that you don’t need to worry about even for an instant.


Escape From Alcatraz Triathalon

Find your inner Clint Eastwood by completing San Francisco's iconic triathlon. Your first feat: a 1.5-mile-swim in the 55-degree waters of the San Francisco Bay adjacent to The Rock. All 2,000 competitors unload from the ferry in less than six minutes, meaning that if you don't paddle quickly, you'll get jumped. You'll then pedal up hills for the next 18-miles -- some are so steep that going 2 miles-per-hour will be excruciating -- to Golden Gate Park where you start the 8-mile trail run. If that's not bad enough, eventually you reach the deep sand of Baker Beach, where a dreaded 400-step "sand ladder" is in your way before the finish. Before you take the plunge, soak up these 7 tips from top swimming experts to help get your feet wet -- and kicking like a powerboat.


The Iditarod Trail Invitational

If you don't have dogs that mush on command, this is the next best thing. You can hike, ski, or bike the 350-mile traverse, and the first checkpoint is 57 miles into barren Alaska. Competitors face subzero temperatures and gale-force winds that could wipe out all visibility. Navigating this frozen land on two wheels might seem crazy, but that's exactly what men did during the Nome Gold Rush in 1900. Completing one of the most remote and longest winter Ultra races in the world might just give you enough pluck to start training for the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Be strong, energetic, and healthy like you were at 25!


Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon & Half Marathon

Racing on the Strip is essentially running in a neon-lit block party. Unlike most crack-of-dawn races, the Sin City marathon and half starts at 4:30 p.m. -- giving you plenty of time to recover from partying the night before. The weekend-long event comes with admission to the pre-race concert and post-race nightclubs. Because after your race, you deserve to see ladies dancing on VIP tables at Tao. Here's a list of reasons You Shouldn't Run a Marathon now and, for future races, how to set yourself up for success.


Ironman Lake Tahoe

Completing an Ironman is a feat. Completing an Ironman more than a mile above sea level is astounding. The Lake Tahoe circuit is said to be the most challenging Ironman race in the world. "Everyone will have more difficult time breathing," says Keats McGonigal, West Coast operations manager for Ironman. "Plus, the total elevation gain on this bike course overshadows the hill profiles at other Ironman races." Stock up on those gel packs because you'll be pedaling upward 8,000 feet along the 112-mile bike course. Plus, you can finish the marathon portion like an Olympian in Squaw Valley, home to the 1960 Winter Games.


Ragnar Relay Washington D.C.

The 200-mile relay is ideal for patriots and history buffs. Exchange points and paths include Fort Frederick, a pivotal landmark during the Revolutionary War; Antietam Battlefield, a spot known for the Civil War's bloodiest day; and Mount Vernon Trail along Arlington National Cemetery with rewarding views of the Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Memorials. Nature enthusiasts will have their share of vistas as well -- the lucky guy running the third leg will ascend 1,200 feet in just over 2 miles during his 7.8 mile run through Green Ridge State Forest.


Hotter’N Hell Hundred

One hundred miles in 100-degree heat sounds downright suicidal -- yet, more than 12,000 cyclers choose to test their limits under the Wichita Falls, Texas, sun each year. The race was established in 1982 to celebrate Wichita Falls' centennial and the tenacity of its early settlers. Here is your chance to find the pioneer within, one who won’t be deterred by stove-top-hot concrete.


Tuckerman Inferno

Competitors of this New Hampshire adventure pentathlon finish by skiing or snowboarding down the 280-degree bowl of the Tuckerman Ravine -- a tribute to the American Inferno ski races of the 1930s. The mountain drops 4,300 feet in 3.6 miles, so don’t be surprised if it feels like you're falling down an elevator shaft. Before you take this legendary slalom, get ready to run 8.3 miles, kayak for 5.5 miles through Class II rapids, bike 18.2 miles, and then hike 3 miles uphill.


The Bourbon Chase

When it comes to stamina, Octoberfest has nothing on the 200-mile relay race along Kentucky's Bourbon Trail. (Yes, delicious bourbon awaits you at the finish.) Teams of 12 must alternate running 36 legs, day and night, for about 30 hours through Bluegrass country's distilleries -- including Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, and Wild Turkey. The winning team is awarded with tailored gift baskets filled with specialty bourbon, signed by their master distiller.

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