Karen Darke: Quest 79
Karen is somewhat of an expert in overcoming challenges- she was a keen runner and mountaineer before becoming paralysed in a rock-climbing accident and has since pursued alternative ways to access the outdoors – most passionately, by hand-cycle.
Currently, a full-time athlete with the British Paracycling Team, Karen won a silver medal in the London 2012 Paralympics and became Paralympic Champion in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Since then, she has represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in Paratriathlon, and gained two Land Speed World Records for arm power in the Nevada desert in 2018.
Karen continues to train while working on her current project, Quest 79, riding the 7 continents and fundraising for the Spinal Injuries Association. Quest 79 handcycle journeys took her through the wilderness of Patagonia, along the Pacific Coast from Canada to Mexico, down Australia’s Murray River from source to sea, the River Ganges from high in the Himalayas, and through the mountains of Ethiopia. “I am an addict, but there are far worse addictions! The combination of physical, social and mental benefits that cycling brings are what keep me turning the pedals, whether it’s for hours on a turbo in the cold winter of northern Scotland, or across deserts. I don’t much like the intensity of racing and competition… my love is to be outside, in beautiful places, with special friends, the wind in my hair, and the sense of freedom and inspiration that brings…”
Karen talks about her journeys by handbike, from high competition to foreign adventures, and the cycles of life they have taken her through.
“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. And of course, friends. Then there are no limits.”
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 Karen Darkes official website.
‘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
This talk is sponsored by Haymarket Hub Hotel