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Karen Darke

Inverness / Sheffield, UK

London 2012 Paralympics Silver medallist, World Paratriathlon Champion

Renowned athlete and adventurer

Highly experienced speaker, coach and motivator

“Karen’s captivating story shines a bright light on the meaning of challenge, and on the limitless capabilities of the human spirit.” – Sir Ranulph Fiennes

Karen Darke is a full-time athlete with the British Paracycling Team, and a keen adventurer. She won a silver medal in the London 2012 Paralympics, was World Paratriathlon Champion in the same year, and a silver medallist in 2013. From a young age Karen was a keen runner, climber and all round outdoor addict. Then, at the age of 21, whilst rock-climbing she fell off a cliff and became paralysed from the chest down. There begins the opening chapter of her first book, If You Fall (O Books, 2006), and the beginning of an extraordinary new life.

After her accident, Karen put all her energy into challenging and overcoming her physical and mental barriers. This involved everything from marathons and triathlons, to kayaking, sit-skiing and hand-cycling in some of the most inhospitable places on the planet.

In 1997, Karen raised £12,000 for charity by crossing the Tien Shan and Karakoram mountains of Central Asia on a hand bike. She has also hand-cycled the length of the Japanese archipelago (2000), kayaked a 1200 mile length of the Canada – Alaska coastline (2003), crossed the Indian Himalaya by hand-cycle (2006) and skied across the Valle Blanche on a sit ski. Her most physically challenging adventure was a 600 kilometre traverse of the Greenland ice cap – a month-long journey across one of the world’s last great expanses of wilderness, with winds reaching 200 miles per hour and temperatures dropping below 40 degrees.

One of her greatest triumphs was facing her fear of heights by climbing the kilometre high overhanging precipice of El Capitan, a giant granite rock face in Yosemite National Park, USA. In 2013 she plans to be the first paraplegic woman to sit-ski over 1000km to the Geographic South Pole. Her aim is to raise £1,000,000 for charities which help disabled people, and young people, lead active, positive lives.

Karen’s second book, Boundless (AKreative, 2012), offers a view of life’s challenges, the profound effects of wilderness, and just what is possible when heart and mind are set to something.

Our Comment

"Karen is hugely passionate about people and the learning opportunities which life offers us. A qualified positive impact coach and facilitator with 8 years' experience at a multinational in a learning and development role, she has a wealth of experience in helping people unlock the energy and potential that lies within us all."

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