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Karen Darke

Karen Darke

Dr Karen Darke MBE, FRSGS. is a British Paralympic Cyclist, Paratriathlete, Explorer and Author. Karen has a PhD in Geology, MA’s in Development Training & High Performance Coaching / Sports Psychology, and Diplomas in Clnical & Pastoral Counselling, Hypnotherapy & Motivational Coaching. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from The University of Aberdeen, Leeds, Cumbria, Sheffield Hallam and Abertay Universities, in recognition of her accomplishments and contributions in adventure and sport.

Explorer, Paralympic Champion, Speaker, Coach & Author
Inspire and Impact

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About this Speaker

Karen could be described as a modern-day ‘Alchemist’: an adventurer, athlete, speaker and author, Karen’s purpose is about inspiring and impacting, about turning challenge into opportunity, turning ‘mud’ into ‘gold’.

Karen started out as a geologist researching gold in the Bolivian Andes, but a life-changing accident that left her paralysed led her away from being a ‘rock-doctor’ to winning Paralympic gold in the sport of Paralympic hand-cycling in Rio 2016.

It was the 79th medal for Britain, and 79 being the elemental number for Gold led to Karen creating Quest 79: Find Your Inner Gold. The project has Karen cycling 7 continents in 9 iconic rides, raising £79K for Spinal Injuries and encouraging people to step out of their comfort zones and discover passion, purpose or ability: their ‘inner gold’.

Karen views life as an adventure, and she embraces all its’ experiences as opportunities to learn and grow. She has experienced some fairly extreme lows on her own roller-coaster, and knows how trauma, stress and life events can lead to fear, pain and under-performance. She has also created some highs, exploring and extending the limits of possibility physically, mentally and emotionally. She has skied across icecaps, kayaked at extreme latitudes of the planet, and hand-cycled across the world’s biggest mountain ranges and alongside some of the longest rivers.

She has also extensively explored and studied what goes on ‘inside’, from the power of the mind and thoughts to enable performance, to the impact of thoughts and emotions to transform her very being. Her career as an athlete and adventurer combined with her unique studies of mind, wellbeing and performance make Karen a specialist in human transformation.

Her 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 positive psychology tips. All are available at

Contact or +44 781 0590244

Testimonial “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, polar explorer

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