Karen could be described as a modern-day ‘Alchemist’: a learning & development specialist turned mindset- heartset coach, explorer, athlete, speaker and author, Karen’s purpose is about helping individuals and organisations ‘Find Inner Gold’: 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. The project has Karen cycling 7 continents in 9 iconic rides, raising £79K for Spinal Injuries and encouraging many people to step out of their comfort zones and discover passion, purpose, strength and other aspects of their ‘inner gold’.
She is a Guinness World Record holder for landspeed by armpower, 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. These experiences combined with unique studies of mind, resilience and performance have led to helping people view life as an adventure, and to embrace all its’ experiences as opportunities to learn and grow. Karen has extensively studied what goes on ‘inside’: the power of the mind and language to positively impact emotions; improving presence, performance and wellbeing.
With a deep understanding of how trauma, stress and life events can lead to fear, pain and dis-ease, I have a passion for helping others transform, move beyond perceived limitations and consider possibility. Ability is a state of mind not body: through my own journey, I have discovered the incredible power we have within us to change our thoughts, our emotions, and our energy. We can all learn to be our own alchemist, to transform unwanted emotions or experiences into gold, be creators of our reality and in doing so improve our performance, our wellbeing, and the world around us.
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 www.karendarke.com
‘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
Karen has an MBE, a PhD in Geology, MA’s in Development Training & High Performance Coaching, and Diploma’s 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.