Somewhat an expert in overcoming challenges, Karen finds much of her inspiration through outdoor adventure. She was a keen runner and mountaineer before becoming paralyzed in a rock-climbing accident, and 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 Himalayas, the Karakoram and the length of the Japanese archipelago. Karen has co-organized expeditions, sea kayaking along the coastlines of British Columbia and Alaska, skiing across the Greenland ice sheet, climbing the kilometer-high vertical rock face of El Capitan, and kayaking through the fjords of Patagonia.
As a coach, facilitator, author, and speaker, Karen works regularly with young people, schools, businesses, and other organizations, 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, was World Paratriathlon Champion in 2012 and silver medallist in 2013, and in 2014 completed an Ironman distance triathlon, the backdrop to the film IMPOSSIBLE.
In 2016, Karen was proud to become Paralympic Champion at the Paralympic Games in Rio — a journey of setbacks and a project of belief that highlights the special things that can happen with the coming together of people. Since then she has been selected to represent Scotland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Paratriathlon. She continues to train with the British Cycling Team while working on her current project, Quest 79, which involves riding the 7 continents and is linked with the Spinal Injuries Association.
Karen’s first book If You Fall tells the story of her accident; the second, Boundless, is about her adventures in Greenland and climbing El Capitan. Quest 79: Find Your Inner Gold is a collection of short stories and positive psychology tips. All are available at www.karendarke.com.
Karen has an MBE, a PhD in geology, and MAs in Development Training and High Performance Coaching. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from The University of Aberdeen and Leeds, Cumbria, Sheffield Hallam, and Abertay Universities in recognition of her accomplishments and contributions in adventure and sport.
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