Karen Darke MBE

Adventurer, Paralympic Gold Medallist, Author

Karen has the philosophy that to have the most impact in life we should challenge our constraints, adopt a positive mind-set and support each other to be the best we can be.

Somewhat an expert in overcoming challenges, Karen finds much of her inspiration through outdoor adventure. She was a keen runner and mountaineer before becoming paralysed in a rock-climbing accident but has since pursued alternative ways to access the outdoors – canoeing, sit-skiing and hand-cycling. She has hand-cycled in various corners of the world, including Central Asia and the Himalaya, the Karakoram and the length of the Japanese archipelago. Karen has co-organised expeditions sea kayaking along the coastlines of British Columbia and Alaska, skiing across the Greenland icecap, climbing the kilometre-high vertical rock-face of El Capitan, and kayaking through the fjords of Patagonia. She has cycled 1,240km through the Patagonian wilderness and across Himalayan terrain; Karen is an adventurer through and through.

As a coach and facilitator, author and speaker, Karen works regularly with young people, schools, businesses and other organisations particularly on the subject of challenge and change. She is currently a full-time athlete with the British Paracycling Team, won a silver medal in the London 2012 Paralympics, she was World Paratriathlon Champion in 2012, a silver medallist in 2013 and Paralympic Gold medallist in Rio 2016.

Karen is one of the most inspirational athletes you are ever likely to meet, always reminding us of what is possible rather than what is not. As Sir Ranulph Fiennes (polar explorer) summarises: ‘Karen’s captivating story shines a bright light on the meaning of challenge, and on the limitless capabilities of the human spirit.’ Karen herself explains: “What is life if it isn’t an adventure? I’m constantly amazed by what can be achieved if we set our heart and mind to it. It’s all about finding belief, confidence, motivation and commitment. There are no limits.”


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