Chatting to Karen Darke MBE

A “sliding doors moment” is how Karen Darke MBE describes the climbing fall that paralysed her from the chest down, aged 21. I wanted to know if she thinks she would have achieved everything she has achieved if she had just decided to climb back down that day when it started to get hard.

Instead, she fell off a sea cliff and into a completely different life, one she says she feels fortunate to have lived.

It’s almost impossible to put into words how impressive the comeback from that accident was. From intensive care to going back to finish her Geology PhD in Aberdeen, to completing the London Marathon in a matter of years, quickly followed by handbiking across the Himalayas.

She is a two-time World Champion paratriathlete, has kayaked 1200 miles from Vancouver to Alaska, is a silver medal paracyclist in London 2012 and a gold medal winner in Rio 2016. All being well, she will be competing in Tokyo in 2021 just as she turns 50.

She has sit skied across 600km in Greenland, handcycled the length of the Japanese archipelago and climbed El Capitan by pulling herself up the rope – 4000 pull ups, in case you’re interested!

We discuss in length her belief that “what if?” should be replaced with “what if I don’t take this opportunity?”, our shared belief that you can have an adventure wherever you are if you have the right attitude and beliefs.

She shares her journey to visit a spirit surgeon in Brazil, where she witnessed things her scientific mind found almost impossible to comprehend and with that the expansion of her mind into how we are capable of so much more than we think we are.

She now runs transformational coaching, works with social enterprises and inspires people to inspire each other, something she truly believes we can all do.

Her latest adventure, Quest 79, has taken her into a whole new realm of expeditions on the 7 continents.

The aim to encourage people to find their own personal challenges and rise to meet them. She is also raising funds for The Spinal Injuries Association and the project will culminate with a trip to Antarctica in Jan 2022 – the 7th and final continent.

Her unwavering belief that everyone can find their “inner gold” is motivating and, dare I say it, inspiring – it’s not a word she likes to be used in conjunction with her, but it’s nigh on impossible not to mention it in the same sentence as her name.

I could go on, the list of adventures and achievements is almost endless, but you’ll need to listen and then devour her books; If You Fall, Boundless and Quest 79 to find out more about her physical, mental and emotional journeys.

They are all available on her website as is the opportunity to contact her about being on the incredible transformational adventures she is putting together, as mentioned in the ingerview, and to donate

You can follow Karen on IG on @handbikedarke and on Facebook

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