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Home > News > Theatre porter completes toughest race in the world

Theatre porter completes toughest race in the world

Posted on Thursday 2nd May 2013

Curly at the Marathon Des Sables

A theatre porter at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle has successfully completed the Marathon Des Sables – the toughest foot race in the world.

The epic race covered 151 miles over six days across the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco. 1040 people entered the race and Michael Irving (known as ‘Curly’) finished 383rd with a time of 38 hours, 22 minutes and 56 seconds.

Participants had to carry everything they needed for the duration of the race across vicious terrain whilst enduring soaring temperatures and sandstorms. Curly said: “. I ran for an average of six hours a day and on day four I ran for over 14 hours, not returning to the camp until after 11pm.

“I have spent two years endlessly training for the race and it has been emotionally and physically draining. But it was the best thing I have ever done and I’d love to do it again at some point in my life. Crossing the finish line was a moment I will never forget and I will keep in touch with a lot of the people I met along the way.”

Curly took part to raise money for Hospice at Home – Carlisle and North Lakeland which provides a specially trained palliative care nursing service for patients who are at the end stages of their life and prefer to remain in their own home. Each year the charity cares for around 300 patients and provides vital support to families and carers. He has raised nearly £4,000 so far and donations can still be made.

Curly said: “The reason I chose Hospice at Home as my charity is because of the care they provided for my mum in her home when she was at the end stage of her life. The staff always made my mum comfortable and took great care of her so, to thank them, I did the race to raise money for them.”

Rather than taking a well-earned rest from training, Curly is now planning his next races including the Great Cumbrian Run in October.

You can still donate money to Hospice at Home via Curly’s Just Giving page at